.oe Biden said his plan for 2 trillion. dollars to rebuild America’s “crumbling” roads, bridges, railroads, and other infrastructure will rival the space race in its ambitions and bring about economic and social change on a scale as large as the New Deal. The president also promised that his investment “once in a generation”
Built into his sprawling infrastructure agenda, the first part of which Biden unveiled this week, are hundreds of billions of dollars dedicated to projects and investments that the administration says will promote racial justice in employment, housing, transportation, health and education, such as at the same time improve the economic performance for color communities.
“This plan is important not only for what and how it’s being built, but it’s also important for where we’re building,” Biden said at the Pittsburgh Carpenter Training Facility last week. “Includes everyone, regardless of your race or zip code.”
His proposal would replace lead pipes and service lines, which have disproportionately harmed black children; reducing air pollution, which has long damaged Black Sea and Latin American neighborhoods near ports and power plants; “Reconnect” neighborhoods interrupted by previous transport projects; expanding affordable housing opportunities to allow more colorful families to buy homes, build wealth, and remove exclusive zoning laws to restore public housing; and prioritize investment in ‘frontline’ communities, whose inhabitants are predominantly people of color, often first and most affected by climate change and environmental disaster.
The plan also provides $ 100 million for workforce development programs targeting historically underserved communities, and $ 20 million for upgrading historic black colleges and universities (HBCU) and other minority service institutions (MSI), as well as quadruple funding for the Production Expansion Partnership to increase investment in “minority and rural ownership”
Maurice Mitchell, national director of the Working Families Party (MPF), said it was clear that Biden had listened to activists and understood the interrelated challenges of racial injustice, climate change and economic inequality.
“It’s not race-neutral – it’s actually quite aggressive and specific,” he said, noting a coalition of black and women voters who helped Biden raise the Democratic nomination and win the White House.
Perhaps the boldest part of the proposal is a $ 400 billion investment in caring for the elderly and Americans with disabilities. In his speech, Biden said his agenda would create jobs and raise wages and benefits for millions of “invisible, underpaid and underrated” caregivers, mostly colored women.
Ai-jun Pu, co-founder and CEO of the National Alliance of Domestic Workers, called it “one of the most influential plans to tackle racial and gender inequality in our economy.”
Pooh said the coronavirus pandemic, which disproportionately injured women and people of color, showed how critical workers are in caring for the nation’s well-being. Yet many of these workers are still struggling to take care of themselves and their families.
Poe believes Biden’s plan can do for care and the economy what previous work programs have done for manufacturing, turning dangerous low-wage jobs into opportunities for upward mobility and security. Domestic workers are excluded from labor protection – Pooh said the effort puts them at the forefront.
“There is nothing more fundamental and beneficial to our economy than having good family care,” she said. “Without it, nothing else can work – we can’t even build roads, bridges and tunnels without care.”
Biden’s plan also envisions $ 100 billion for high-speed broadband, along with provisions to improve access and accessibility that White House officials say will help bridge the digital divide between whites and blacks and Latinos.
“The Internet is a tool we all rely on,” said Angela Seefer, executive director of the National Alliance for Digital Inclusion. “And when certain segments of the population, especially those that have been historically abandoned, do not have access to tools, they lag even further behind.”
Biden said his plan would help reduce costs by increasing competition and providing short-term subsidies to low-income households. Seifer said the measures were important, but she was skeptical that rates would fall enough to make high-speed internet accessible to low-income families without more permanent subsidies.
Improving digital literacy is also crucial to tackling racial inequality, Seifer said, adding: “To really achieve justice, we need to go beyond thinking: let’s just make it accessible.”
The proposal also includes $ 5 billion for community-based violence prevention programs, an investment that Black and Latino activists have long said would help reduce the impact of gun violence.
The administration is proposing additional efforts to bridge the gap in racial wealth, with the universal preschool, affordable higher education and improved family leave coming in the second part of the $ 4 trillion program.
Republicans accuse Biden of supplying a Trojan horse to fund progressive initiatives.
“Biden’s plan includes hundreds of billions in spending on left-wing policies and priorities of the blue states,” said the Republican National Committee. It singled out parts of the bill aimed at tackling racial and gender inequality, such as $ 400 billion for an “unrelated” home care program that “was the main demand of some unions.”
While many senior Democrats welcomed the plan, many progressives said it did not go far enough. They called for $ 10 trillion over the next decade to combat climate change, including stronger investment in renewable energy and a goal of shifting the United States to zero zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.
Biden said he was open to talks and hoped he could get Republicans involved in the plan. The president has suggested that Republicans be quick to act if they learn that drinking water on Capitol Hill flows through lead pipes.
As Congress began the process of translating Biden’s plan into law, progressive groups launched a campaign to pressure MPs to adopt an even more ambitious agenda. MSP is part of a coalition of protest groups demanding that Congress ensure a “transformational economic recovery.”
“If you’re going to be big and brave, be big and brave and solve the problem completely,” Mitchell said. “We are in a moment of crisis and we will not get another shot.”