We’re in a race with China and the rest of the world for the 21st century: Joe Biden


The fact is, investment in jobs and infrastructure have often had bipartisan support in the past.

By Joe Biden

Published: Tue 29 Jun 2021, 5:57 PM

I said many times before: There’s nothing our nation can’t do when we decide to do it together, do it as one nation. Today is the latest example of that truth, in my view. I’m pleased to report that a bipartisan group of senators — five Democrats, five Republicans — part of a larger group — have come together and forged an agreement that will create millions of American jobs and modernize our American infrastructure to compete with the rest of the world and own the 21st century.

The fact is, investment in jobs and infrastructure have often had bipartisan support in the past. Matter of fact, when I first got to the United States Senate, it was probably the least difficult thing to do — is pass infrastructure plans. But even so, it’s been a very long time since the last time our country was able to strike a major bipartisan deal on American infrastructure — which is so badly needed, I might add.

We devoted far too much energy to competing with one another and not nearly enough energy competing with the rest of the world to win the 21st century.

The investments we’ll be making as a result of this deal are long overdue. They’ll put Americans to work in good-paying jobs repairing our roads and our bridges. They’ll deliver high-speed Internet to every American home, bringing down the price that people pay now for Internet service. And they’ll close the American digital divide — as been driven home by every mother and father with a child at home during the COVID crisis, that is, thank God, abating. And kids not being able to be in school.

This is going to put plumbers and pipefitters to work. It’s going to replace 100 percent of the nation’s lead water pipes so that every child and every American could turn on the faucet at home or at school and drink clean water, including in low-income communities and communities of color that have been disproportionately affected by lead pipes and the consequences of that.

This still makes key investments to put people to work all across the country building transmission lines, upgrading the power grid to be more ener- — more energy efficient and resilient in extreme weather — to be able to sustain extreme weather and the — and the climate crisis. It also builds our natural infrastructure — our coastlines and our — and our levees — to be more resilient as well.

American workers will be installing electric vehicle charging stations and undertaking critical environmental cleanups. This bipartisan agreement represents the largest investment in public transit in American history.

And I might add that — the largest investment in rail, since the creation of Amtrak. You all know I have nothing but affection for Amtrak, having traveled over a million miles on it, commuting every day. But it’s a big deal.

This agreement is going to create a new financing authority that’s going to leverage private capital and infrastructure and clean energy projects that will provide folks with good-paying jobs that can’t be outsourced — the kinds of jobs that provide middle-class — a middle-class life with a little bit of breathing room — a little bit of breathing room for American families.

My dad used to say, “Being in the middle class is just being able to take that extra breath.” I mean it sincerely. Think about it. Think about all the people who can’t take that breath because they don’t — they have no margin for error.

We’re going to do it all without raising a cent from earners below $400,000. There’s no gas tax increase, no fee on electric vehicles. And the fact is, we’re going to help ensure that — we’re going to make sure that everybody in America is in a position to be able to do what need be done.

And so what I’ve — because — and let me be clear: We’re in a race with China and the rest of the world for the 21st century. They’re not waiting. They’re investing tens of billions of dollars across the board. Tens of billions.

I just came back from Europe with — meeting with the G7, as well as with NATO, as well as the EU, and as well as with Mr. Putin — all separately. There’s massive investment going on in the — among the autocrats.

One of the underlying questions is: Can democracies compete with autocratic enterprises in the 21st century? And this is a big move toward that, being able to compete. We have to move, and we have to move fast.

And this agreement singles — signals to the world that we can function, deliver, and do significant things. These investment rep- — these investments represent the kind of national effort that, throughout our history, has literally — not figuratively — literally transformed America and propelled us into the future. The transcontinental railroad, the Interstate Highway System — investments that we made together that only our government was in a position to make.

Now we’re poised to add a new chapter in that American tradition. Let me be clear: Neither side got everything they wanted in this deal, and that’s what it means to compromise. And it reflects something important: It reflects consensus. The heart of democracy requires consensus. And it’s time a true — this time a true bipartisan effort, breaking the ice that too often has kept us frozen in place and prevented us from solving the real problems facing the American people.

This deal — this deal means millions of good-paying jobs, and fewer burdens felt at the kitchen table and across the country, and safer and healthier communities. But it also signals to ourselves and to the world that American democracy can deliver. And because of that, it represents an important step forward for our country.

I want to be clear about something else: Today is a huge day for one half of my economic agenda, the American Jobs Plan. It delivers on clean transportation, clear water and clean water, universal broadband, clean power infrastructure, and environmental resilience.

In these areas, it invests two thirds of the resources that I proposed in my American Jobs Plan. Two thirds of what I called for in those areas.

But I’m getting to work with Congress right — right away on the other half of my economic agenda as well — the American Family Plan — to finish the job on childcare, education, the caring economy, clean energy tax cuts — clean energy, and tax cuts for American families, and much more.

For me, investment in our physical and human infrastructure are inextricably intertwined. Both make us better off and stronger.

The case for these investments is clear. Economists — left, right, and center — independent Wall Street forecasters, they all say that these kinds of public investments mean more jobs, more workers participating in the labor force, higher productivity, and higher growth for our economy over the long run.

We need physical infrastructure, but we also need the human infrastructure as well. They’re a part of my overall plan. What we agreed on today is what we could agree on: the physical infrastructure. There was no agreement on the rest. We’re going to have to do that through the budget process.

And we need a fairer tax system to pay for it all.

I’m not going to rest until it all — both get to my desk.

And lastly, I know there are some of my party who discouraged me from seeking an agreement with our Republican colleagues, who said that we should, “Go bigger and go alone.”

To them, I say this: I have already shown, in my young presidency, that I am prepared to do whatever needs to get done to move the country forward. That’s what I did with the American Rescue Plan, which was $1.9 trillion.

But let me say this: When we can’t — when we can find common ground, though, working across party lines, that is what I will seek to do.

I know a lot of you in the press, particularly, doubt that unity is possible, that anything bipartisan is possible. It’s hard, but it’s necessary. And it can get done. - This is an excerpt from remarks by US President Joe Biden on the bipartisan infrastructure deal. - whitehouse.gov

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