Biden is exploring new perspectives on infrastructure that goes far beyond asphalt

Washington (AP) — President Joe Biden gives himself a lot of freedom when defining infrastructure for the purpose of spending money on it. It’s not just steel, it’s also a home health care worker. It not only digs the soil, but also builds “dignity”.

Republicans say they forget it if it’s not a pothole, harbor, plane or bridge. Don’t worry, like Biden, Donald Trump wanted to get some of the infrastructure pie at school.

At least in theory, everyone likes infrastructure and is willing to spend a lot of money on it. That’s why the definition of infrastructure is important, as Biden has been trying to market the country and parliament in the largest such packages for generations.

In short, most of Biden’s plans do not fit into the traditional understanding of infrastructure. In other words, under the structure, that is, the basic one. Biden and his team did rhetorical gymnastics to make almost everything in the package sound like infrastructure.

For example, strengthening a worker’s right to join a union is not like concrete in an underpass. However, the White House fact sheet claims that stronger union rights “provide infrastructure to create good middle-class jobs,” which justifies domestic spending on many things. It is an argument that can be used to make it. Democrats are adding another layer to the definition to attend weekend events on “care infrastructure.”

Meanwhile, the Republican National Committee has a strict and distorted view of what is considered infrastructure in order to earn points against Biden.

Republicans argue that roads, bridges, waterways, ports and airports are important, but public transport, utilities and other basic economic and daily life elements are not.

The RNC for Wednesday’s email is:

“Biden’s non-infrastructure bill raises $ 2 trillion in taxes … all spending 7% of the bill on roads, highways, bridges, waterways, ports and airports.”

And one from April 1st.

“Joe Biden’s” Infrastructure “plan isn’t really about infrastructure, it’s a trillion-dollar far-left wishlist. Please see the actual invoice. Only 7% of bill spending is for what Americans traditionally consider to be infrastructure. “

The claim that only 7% of the proposed funds go to traditional infrastructure is false. The traditional standard is 30% to 40%. And at least some of the rest are closely related to infrastructure, if not typical examples.

Infrastructure spending is limited to $ 157 billion for bridges, highways, roads, main streets, airports, inland waterways, ports and ferries, based on what the Republican Party describes as traditional.

But its narrow focus omits other transportation-related spending, including $ 85 billion for public transport, $ 80 billion for Amtrak rail services, and $ 20 billion to improve road safety. ..

Overall, even the independent and responsible federal budget committee, and even the deficit hawks that hate government accounting and wasted spending, explained Biden’s plans for $ 621 billion, or about 30%. As “transportation infrastructure”.

Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri, a leader of the Senate Republican Party, said that if Biden achieved 30% of that, “it’s easy to get a bipartisan victory here.”

Of course, by a compelling definition, the country’s infrastructure is not limited to transportation. At the core of society are utilities and communication systems.

Adding funding to strengthen the grid, improve drinking and wastewater, and expand broadband services will bring about $ 923 billion, or 40% of Biden’s plans, to on-point infrastructure.

The faster Internet is a relatively new component of infrastructure spending, but not entirely new. Trump’s infrastructure plans were never put together, but as his White House stated, he decided to include money for broadband expansion “for our great peasants and rural areas.” I wanted it.

The Republican National Committee did not put that terrible quote around “infrastructure” when Trump proposed this.

Trump, like Biden, also challenged the gray areas, which are less detailed, but extend the meaning of the infrastructure. Here’s how he explained his infrastructure aspirations in his 2016 victory speech:

“We plan to repair the city center and rebuild highways, bridges, tunnels, airports, schools and hospitals. We will rebuild our infrastructure. By the way, it will be second to none. And we work millions of people when rebuilding it. “

Trump’s explanation turned out to be a reasonable overview of plans to reach Congress, but by Biden.

Biden’s plans take advantage of Trump’s stepping into new territories while defending infrastructure funding for schools and hospitals, as well as roads and bridges. He is proposing $ 400 billion to increase access to long-term home and community-based care services. And he has an estimated $ 400 billion for clean energy, which is not Trump’s priority.

One component aims to correct past infrastructure inequality. Many roads in the past have been built in ways to destroy the black community, and Biden’s plan proposes $ 20 billion to attempt to restore its torn cloth.

There is also a somewhat vaguely defined vocational training initiative and $ 590 billion for R & D.

What does the dictionary say about all of this? The traditional definition assumes a facility rather than a program like vocational training or a home care assistant.

“Substructures or underlying foundations, especially basic economic, social, or military facilities, as well as community, state, and other facilities,” says Webster’s new Universal Unabridged Dictionary from 1983.

From 1887 According to the online etymological dictionary: “Installation that forms the basis of any operation or system. Originally in a military sense.”

But in Washington, such things are defined not by dictionaries, but by who wins the debate.

Biden’s definition: People “live, go to work, raise a family with dignity, ensure that children have a good job, no matter who they are or what zip code they live in. The foundation needed to “do”. The meaning of infrastructure in the 21st century. “

He insisted that: “Trains weren’t traditional infrastructure until the United States chose to lay railroad tracks nationwide 200 years ago.”

Biden’s claim was rhetorical.Noah Webster The first comprehensive American dictionary of EnglishSince 1828, it has not supported any infrastructure.


Associated Press writer Josh Boak contributed to this report.

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