Like much of Joe Biden’s presidency to date, the $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan he laid out last Wednesday is remarkably ambitious. Rightly so. America’s economic future is at stake.
The country needs a bold new commitment to public investment. The U.S. is visibly falling behind. Any recent traveler to Beijing or Shanghai is struck by how shabby American airports and city grids look in comparison. And this isn’t just about appearances. China is proving that modern infrastructure is an essential component of industrial competitiveness and economic growth. Unless something changes, Washington’s neglect of roads, bridges and other connective tissue, plus failure to invest in the infrastructure of the future — from digital access to clean power grids — will condemn the U.S. to relative economic decline.
Give Biden credit for thinking big. His aims far exceed the kind of workaday repairs that have long characterized such proposals. Not content to fill potholes and mend bridges, the plan seeks to revive domestic manufacturing, overhaul the energy industry, mitigate climate change and undertake a variety of “transformative investments.” Biden is also right to see an opportunity to advance other goals at the same time — such as creating good new jobs and reducing inequality.