Agreement between the US Democrats and Republicans to approve the infrastructure plan, one of the pillars of President Joe Biden’s economic program. A group of ten senators, five from each party, reached a budget-cut framework agreement on Wednesday night that sets aside part of the original text – investment in social programs and the fight against climate change – and abounds in the creation and modernization of physical infrastructures, such as roads, transport networks or access to broadband. The toll of filibustering in the Senate, which requires 60 votes to pass the law – Democrats have only 50 seats – has forced compromise. “We have reached an agreement,” Biden announced this Thursday, noting that it will create “millions of jobs.”
The group of lawmakers presented the draft to the president and vice president, Kamala Harris, at noon at the White House. After the meeting, from which everyone hoped that the white smoke would come out, the president appeared before the press, wrapped up by the murderers of the agreement. “We have an agreement. I think it’s really important that we all agree that none of us have gotten everything they wanted, ”Biden said, underscoring the concessions on both sides to seal the compromise. The agreement must be ratified by Congress.
When he announced the so-called American Employment Plan in late March, Biden proposed an endowment of $ 2.25 trillion over the next 15 years, but Republicans rejected that figure on the grounds that it would increase the deficit. After several proposals and counterproposals, with some break in the negotiation included, the last and final offer of the bipartisan group foresees 579,000 million dollars in new expenses to reach 974,000 million in five years and 1.2 trillion in eight. That is to say, a trillion less than initially foreseen by the Democratic Administration. The objectives of the plan include the repair of roads and bridges; the replacement of conventional school buses with electric ones, and that of pipes contaminated by lead; broadband access for all citizens, the improvement of the electricity grid and the reinforcement of basic infrastructures in the face of cyberattacks, climate change and the impact of natural disasters.
Senators declined to reveal specific details of the deal and did not explain how it will be financed. The president initially intended to do so by raising corporate taxes from the current 21% to 28%, an increase that for Republicans carries the risk of slowing the economic recovery. Sources with access to the negotiations maintain that the financing will have two red lines: not taxing the middle class, as Biden defends, but also not going back in the benefits for the highest incomes that the 2017 Trump tax reform enshrined.
Details remain pending, the negotiators of the White House and the bipartisan group claim not to agree on everything 100%, but this agreement is the furthest that it has been possible to go, and the closest that Biden’s star plan is to become reality. Along the way has remained the budget ambition of the president, who at the end of last March and April launched his ambitious program of economic recovery and modernization, with two clearly differentiated legs: the aforementioned American Employment Plan and the American Families Plan, respectively. physical and social pillars – the “human infrastructure, or care”, according to the White House – of its regenerative agenda after the pandemic. The joint budget of both programs amounted to four trillion dollars, although the chapter of social measures of the first already contemplated an investment of 400,000 million that will now be suspended, if the law is approved.
Sealing a bipartisan deal will allow Biden to pursue that ambitious economic agenda, albeit at two speeds. Even cut in provision, the plan contemplates the creation and modernization of an obsolete public works system, which suffers from deficiencies and accumulates neglect. The percentage of public investment in infrastructure has fallen from 2.7% to 0.7% of GDP since the 1960s, while China spends three times more than the US The richest country in the world drops to 13th place when the quality of its infrastructures is valued.
The social chapter, those 400,000 million foreseen in the Employment Plan, has been the sacrificial victim of the agreement, in addition to a good part of the initiatives of the environmental agenda. According to the negotiators, social provisions – including child care or care for the elderly, in addition to the agenda against climate change – will have to wait or be dosed in minor legislative initiatives, a more feasible way to overcome the legislative process.
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