Biden touts landmark infrastructure plan among U.S. blue-collar workers
US President Joe Biden stood at a warehouse full of oily Wisconsin machinery on Tuesday to tout his multibillion-dollar infrastructure plans, saying America needed everything from the best bridges to broadband to stay competitive.
Comparing his efforts to the creation more than half a century ago of the interstate highway system bringing together the world’s largest economy, Biden said it was the kind of effort that “only government has the capacity to do. to do”.
“This is a generational investment to modernize,” he said, to “position America to compete with the rest of the world in the 21st century”.
Biden was speaking at a municipal repair and storage facility in the small blue-collar town of La Crosse, Wisconsin – a state he narrowly managed to overthrow in the tense 2020 election against Donald Trump.
There wasn’t much in terms of polished production for the presidential tour and the speech that followed to a small audience in one of the cavernous hangars.
Instead, Biden took the stage surrounded by heavy equipment, including trucks and traffic signs. Huge road-building machines filled an adjoining room, and the smell of motor oil permeated the complex.
Speaking to the driver of a hybrid bus – which Biden believes should be the blueprint for hybrid and electric bus fleets in the United States – he asked if crumbling bridges and highways were a problem locally.
“That’s our main obstacle right now,” replied the driver. “We’re lagging behind on this.”
Biden, a longtime car enthusiast who enjoys talking about his family’s working-class roots, clearly hopes his infrastructure push will do more than fix the U.S. economy.
Infrastructure spending is popular with voters, and a successful rollout could boost hopes for his Democratic Party in Congressional midterm elections next year – and his own re-election in 2024.
Biden is pushing for two infrastructure bills.
The first, which would focus mostly on traditional areas like roads and bridges, is being negotiated, with Republicans considering a rare moment of bipartisan cooperation in Congress.
The package would also cover the replacement of unsanitary lead pipes in homes across the country, strengthen broadband internet and establish a network of electric vehicle charging stations.
At around $ 1,000 billion, it is far from certain that the plan will inspire both sides to reach a deal.
However, whether Republican support materializes or not, Biden also intends to use his ultra-thin Democratic control of Congress to enact an even bigger spending bill that would also include what he calls “the human infrastructure “- such as increasing preschool and higher education. This separate bill could run into several trillions of dollars.
Either way, Biden is staking his legacy on an issue he believes lies at the root of an existential battle for supremacy on the world stage.
“China is going full” on infrastructure spending and has left the United States far behind in dollars spent on research and development, he said in his speech in Wisconsin.
Writing earlier on Yahoo !, Biden said that a giant infrastructure overhaul would send “a signal to ourselves and to the world, that American democracy can work and be useful to the people.”