7 Ways Biden's New Infrastructure Plan Promises to Help Families
President Biden announced his $2 trillion American Jobs Plan. Emily Tisch Sussman, the host of Your Political Playlist, breaks down what it could mean for families across America.
President Biden announced his $2 trillion American Jobs Plan that aims to "Build Back Better" by investing in jobs and all types of infrastructure.
As a mother of three and longtime political strategist, I know the impact policy can have on families like mine. When President Biden released his long anticipated infrastructure plan, it was clear that "infrastructure" covers more than just roads and bridges. As proposed, the plan calls for comprehensive solutions to create good-paying jobs, increase access to child care, provide clean water, and expand broadband.
Over the past four seasons of my podcast Your Political Playlist, I have sat down with the experts who have shaped the conversation surrounding policy issues like infrastructure to understand the direct and positive impacts a comprehensive plan like this can have on millions of families.
So how exactly do roads and jobs, child and home-based care, clean water, education, affordable housing, and universal broadband affect your family?
Fixing Roads and Bridges
This past fall, I interviewed Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who coined the phrase "Fix the Damn Roads." Although crude to some, it reflected a needed policy change and resonated with thousands of voters.
It's clear the fundamentals matter. Families should not have to worry about their child's school bus driving over an at-risk bridge or road. Yet, across America, more than 46,000 bridges are structurally deficient, and 43 percent of our public roads are in bad condition. By investing over $620 billion in transportation infrastructure, and an additional $85 billion for public transportation, Biden's plan aims to fix and modernize the bridges, highways, and roads families use every day.
When I sat down with civil rights organizer Emily Chatterjee in 2019 to talk about infrastructure policies she told me a reason so many people are interested in infrastructure "is because it is a source of so many jobs."
It's true. The American Jobs Plan is projected to create approximately 2.7 million jobs and up to two million new registered apprenticeships slots with these historic investments. This means putting families who need it most back into the workforce, recovering most of the 22 million jobs lost after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, and strengthening the pipeline for more women and people of color to access opportunities.
The Care Economy
In February, I interviewed Heather Boushey, a member of the White House Council of Economic Advisers in the Biden administration, who stressed the importance of the care economy: "We have learned in 2020 how important the care economy is for keeping the whole economy running. If people can't access care, for their children or their loved ones, and they can't get to work, then the whole economy doesn't work."
President Biden is calling for a $25 billion investment to upgrade and increase child care facilities, so that families around the country can access much-needed child care. The plan also calls for $400 billion for "expanding access to quality, affordable home- or community-based care for aging relatives and people with disabilities," since so many parents are now balancing both caring for their kids and parents.
By expanding the supply of child care, parents—particularly mothers who have taken on the majority of the labor at home during the pandemic—will be better equipped to return to the workforce, thus creating a stronger economy for everyone.
It has been seven years since the beginning of the Flint water crisis, a devastating event that exposed the inequities and deep infrastructure issues in our water systems. Since then, we have seen water crises unfold in other cities, such as Jackson, Mississippi and Newark, New Jersey.
The American Jobs Plan has proposed $111 billion to replace and eliminate all lead pipes and service lines to reduce lead exposure in 400,000 schools and child care facilities. With this critical investment, families can be assured that they can give their children a glass of clean water at the dinner table.
Our kids can't learn if they don't have safe, stable places to attend school. As students head back into classrooms as the number of vaccinated Americans increases, too many of them will sit in crumbling buildings in dire need of improvement. The American Jobs Plan proposes a $100 billion investment in repairing and upgrading our existing schools and building new ones. This will help to ensure our children are focused on learning—not whether their school has heating in the winter.
Despite being one of the leaders in the global economy, the United States still lacks affordable housing options for many families who need it. In fact, there is no county in the country where an individual making minimum wage can afford a typical two-bedroom apartment.
Under the American Jobs Plan, President Biden is planning to devote $213 billion to provide more than two million affordable places for families to live. The plan focuses on eliminating state and local exclusionary zoning laws that can trap families in struggling neighborhoods.
If the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us anything, it is how vital reliable internet is to every household and the vast digital divide.
"Data from the Federal Communications division says that one in three households don't have broadband—and that was before the pandemic," said Jessica Rosenworcel, acting Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairwoman, during my conversation with her in February. She spoke about the growing support for investing in universal broadband, saying, "You see in other bills that are coming out this widespread recognition that we should spend to connect everyone because on that foundation rides our whole future economy, rides opportunity."
The president's plan would invest $100 billion to ensure people in rural areas have internet access and those in urban areas can afford their internet bills. This will help increase access to essential things like online school, virtual doctors appointments, and tools needed to fully participate in the workforce.
The Biden administration is now working with members of Congress to draft the legislation, which will then be introduced in Congress. Contact your members of Congress to let them know what parts of this plan you want them to prioritize.
You can read more about the plan here, and listen to Emily Tisch Sussman's interviews with infrastructure experts on Your Political Playlist. Be sure to check out her conversation with Tanya Snyder, reporter at Politico and transportation expert airing on Thursday, April 15. And for more conversations with women at the seat of power and activism about policy that affects you and your family, follow @YourPoliticalPlaylist on Instagram, and listen wherever you get your podcasts.