Biden’s $1T infrastructure bill may not be as transformative as originally thought
In order to achieve a bipartisan deal, the president had to cut back his initial ambition to spend $2.3 trillion on infrastructure by more than half.
Exporting & Importing
The $1 trillion infrastructure bill that President Joe Biden signs into law represents a historic achievement at a time of deeply fractured politics. But the compromises needed to bridge the political divide suggest that the spending might not be as transformative as Biden has promised for the U.S. economy.
Faced with flagging support as the U.S. continues to slog through a pandemic and rising inflation, the president has treated infrastructure as proof that government can function again. Ahead of Nov. 15’s signing ceremony, he instructed his Cabinet on Nov. 12 to rigorously police the coming investments in roads, bridges, water systems, broadband, ports, electric vehicles and the power grid to ensure they pay off.
“It’s hard, but we can still come together to get something big done for the American people,” Biden said. “It will create millions of new jobs. It will grow the economy. And we’ll win the world economic competition that we’re engaged in in the second quarter of the 21st century with China and many other countries around the world.”
Biden held off on signing the hard-fought infrastructure deal after it passed on Nov. 5 until legislators would be back from a congressional recess and could join in a splashy bipartisan event. On Nov. 14 before the signing, the White House announced Mitch Landrieu, the former New Orleans mayor, would coordinate the implementation of the infrastructure spending.
In order to achieve a bipartisan deal, the president had to cut back his initial ambition to spend $2.3 trillion on infrastructure by more than half. The bill that becomes law on Nov. 15 in reality includes about $550 billion in new spending over 10 years, since some of the expenditures in the package were already planned. Yet the administration still views the bill as a national project with a broad range of investments and the potential ways to improve people’s lives with clean drinking water and high-speed internet.