Will Biden’s infrastructure plan correct years of inequality or make matters worse?
For this reason, there has never been a better time for progressive thinkers to advocate for increased spending on infrastructure. The Biden administration takes the opportunity to present a comprehensive plan for infrastructure reform in response to climate and energy-related disasters. After months of negotiations, the Senate passed a $ 1,000 billion bipartisan infrastructure bill last month, which is facing hurdles in the House. The road to better roads is complicated.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Is pushing for the Senate infrastructure bill and a $ 3.5 trillion spending plan drafted by House Democrats to be passed together, attracting criticism from Republicans. Meanwhile, Senate Democrats are seeking to pass the $ 3.5 trillion package through a process known as reconciliation, which, according to Senate rules, means it can be passed with 50 Democratic votes only, thus avoiding the Republican opposition. But two moderate Democrats – West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin and Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema – could derail that effort.
Yet passing either bill – and the resulting influx of money into America’s infrastructure – won’t be enough for the White House to declare victory.
There are growing expectations of the next wave of community investment to reach people that American politics has neglected – in recent years and throughout history. Fortunately, there are signs that the administration is addressing fairness in its “reconstruction” plans.
President Joe Biden has publicly embraced some progressive and reclaiming ideas like climate justice. And there is some promise in the administration’s Justice40 initiative, a guarantee to “deliver at least 40 percent of the overall benefits of federal climate and clean energy investments to underprivileged communities.” There have also been movements of key personnel, including the promotion of Shalanda Baker, the head of the Department of Energy that Biden has chosen to lead the agency’s office of economic impact and diversity.
American policy has carefully removed the foundations of American infrastructure – health, a home, and a job – from their lives.
At her confirmation hearing in June, Baker, a black woman, paid tribute to her father, who worked at an oil refinery in Texas and died years after ingesting toxic chemicals while working.
“If this is confirmed, I would be honored to help lead the administration’s Justice40 transformation initiative to ensure that communities like my father’s, as well as those we rely on for coal, oil and gas production and gas, have a future in the new, clean energy saving, ”she said.
If Biden and the Congressional Democrats pass their infrastructure plans this fall, they will need to work immediately to counter the distrust of communities that have been shunned by US politics.
Last year, for example, the Brookings Institution found that black and Latino-owned businesses had less access than white-owned businesses to federal paycheck protection program loans authorized during the pandemic. Black and brown neighborhood businesses tended to receive loans last, and they often had to borrow from lenders who offered unfavorable interest rates and poor customer protection.
After lawmakers authorized more than $ 500 billion in federal loans to go to small businesses last year, then Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin declined to tell them which companies received the loans. In retrospect, and unsurprisingly, we know that Mnuchin and the Small Business Administration oversaw an allocation of funds that was racist in practice.
Marginalized people have been prevented from participating in the pitfalls of citizenship. They were denied business loans, home loans, and were forced to move to neighborhoods with various health risks. In other words, American policy has carefully carved the foundations of American infrastructure – health, a home, and a job – out of their lives.
In order for the Biden White House to succeed with this coming windfall of federal spending, it will need to center marginalized groups in its plans with the same vigor used historically to exclude them.
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