The President complained as he unveiled his plan in Pittsburgh — the kind of gritty blue collar city he loves — that the top 1% saw their wealth rise by $4 trillion during the pandemic while millions of Americans lost jobs. “Just goes to show you how distorted and unfair our economy has become,” Biden said. “Wasn’t always this way. Well, it’s time to change that.”
Biden wants to do more than repair America’s crumbling roads, bridges and airports. He proposes $300 billion to boost manufacturing. Another $400 billion would fund care services for the aged and disabled. There’s $100 billion each to replace lead water pipes, build new public schools and get every citizen access to broadband. Biden plans to create good paying jobs with a $600 billion payout for highways, railroads and bridge repair. And he aims to pay for all this by raising the corporate tax rates that Donald Trump slashed to 21% to 28% and with various other taxes on big business.
But Biden is betting that — as with his popular Covid plan — he can win support even from some Republican voters outside Washington and ram his infrastructure reforms into law by the end of the summer.
A few weeks more
The long trek down the winter infection curve is being reversed as new viral variants, for now, outrun the rush to get shots in arms. The problem is being exacerbated by the refusal of many state governors and local officials to learn the lessons of history, as they drop mask mandates and throw open restaurants, bars and businesses before the virus is eradicated. The heady prospect of a semblance of normality seems to be fueling a frenzy — just look at the thousands who flocked to Florida beaches on spring break.
Biden has pleaded with state governors to keep mask mandates and restrictions in place for a little longer. The head of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, says she fears “impending doom.” But the governors aren’t listening. Mississippi’s Tate Reeves says falling viral numbers in his state no longer justify “government overreach.” And he adds: “Mississippians can make their own decisions.”
Impatience can kill, and such twists of public health guidance are likely to cause a surge again, like they did last summer, when Trump goaded governors into mass openings and caused a Sun Belt epidemic. Those who die in the coming weeks may tragically have been within days of a lifesaving vaccination.