On March 31, President Joe Biden announced the most ambitious plan of his presidency to date. During a speech at the Carpenters Pittsburgh Training Center, he laid out a two-part legislative package that makes up the “Build Back Better” portion of his 2020 platform.
The first half of the “Build Back Better” legislative package, called the American Jobs Plan, is a $2 trillion plan to restore the country’s deteriorating infrastructure, which would create millions of well-paying jobs in the process.
“It’s the largest American jobs investment since World War Two,” Biden said during his remarks in Pittsburgh. “It will create millions of jobs, good-paying jobs. It will grow the economy, make us more competitive around the world, promote our national security interests, and put us in a position to win the global competition with China in the upcoming years.”
The new proposal closely follows Biden’s first major legislative accomplishment, the American Rescue Plan, which pumped $1.9 trillion of stimulus into the U.S. economy to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. This bill also sent $1,400 checks to most Americans and extended unemployment benefits.
But while the American Rescue Plan aimed to alleviate economic strain, the American Jobs Plan seeks to fortify the U.S. economy, making it more robust and equitable. With this legislation, Biden hopes to address several underlying problems in the economy, such as crumbling roads and bridges and climate change. The administration is pitching the plan as an investment in a brighter future.
If passed into law, the American Jobs Plan will use a multifaceted approach to strengthening the U.S. economy. The plan calls for spending $650 billion on “infrastructure at home,” which includes clean drinking water, universal broadband, affordable and sustainable housing and electrical infrastructure.
The other biggest area of spending in the plan is $621 billion to revive the country’s transportation infrastructure. Damaged bridges, highways and roads will be restored. There will be multi-billion dollar investments in public transit, passenger and freight rails, electric vehicles and more.
Additionally, the plan allocates $580 billion for research and workforce development, as well as another $400 billion for home-based care for elderly and disabled people.
The Biden administration says it plans to pay for these projects by reversing parts of the 2017 Trump tax cuts, and imposing a series of tax increases on corporations.
The other half of Biden’s “Build Back Better” package is called the American Families Plan. This legislation will address the need for childcare and paid leave, adding another $1 trillion in spending.
On April 19, as part of the Biden administration’s all-out effort to push the American Jobs Plan, Vice President Kamala Harris gave her first extensive economic speech since taking office. Addressing an audience at Guilford Technical Community College in North Carolina, she said the plan “is not just about fixing what has been. It is about building what can be,” according to a CNN report.
The Biden administration has laid out a state-by-state breakdown of what the American Jobs Plan aims to accomplish.
A document titled “The Need for Action in Nebraska” lists a variety of infrastructure projects in the state that require investment, restoration and improvement. Projects listed include roads and bridges, public transportation, drinking water, affordable housing and broadband, among others.
But even with the potential enhancements to Nebraska’s infrastructure, the state faces a problem: a shortage of manual labor. Back in March 2015, the Omaha World-Herald reported a shortage of ironworkers, steamfitters, sheet metal workers, plumbers, electricians and other skilled labor in Omaha. Another report in 2019 told the same story, calling the problem a “workforce crisis.”
If Biden’s American Jobs Plan comes to pass, this will be a serious issue for Nebraska to contend with. As much as the state needs improvements to its infrastructure, it also needs workers to complete those projects.