Op-Ed: Why President Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure bill falls short
After months of trying and deep negotiations, the US Senate negotiating committee unveiled the long-awaited $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill Sunday night. The expectation is for the Senate to pass the bill by the end of this week.
Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) introduced the package for consideration, and in all likelihood, lawmakers will submit their amendments in the coming days before the bill comes up for a final vote sometime this week.
The legislation, titled the “Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act,” has an estimated cost of $1.2 trillion over eight years and includes $550 billion in new infrastructure investments.
According to the White House, the figure represents the largest investment ever made by the federal government in public transportation and the largest investment ever made in drinking water and wastewater.
President Biden is a firm believer that the US must enhance investment in the nation and toward all US citizens by creating good-paying jobs, dealing with the climate crisis, and support the growing economy sustainably and equitably for decades to come. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal has a framework to attempt to reach these objectives.
According to the White House and the Senate, the $550 billion Infrastructure Deal:
- Includes $110 billion for highways, bridges, other significant projects, and a surface transportation program for the next five years building on bipartisan surface transportation;
- Makes the most significant federal investment in public transit ever;
- Makes the most significant federal investment in passenger rail since the creation of Amtrak;
- Makes the single most significant dedicated bridge investment since the construction of the interstate highway system;
- Makes the most significant investment in clean drinking water and wastewater;
- Offers all Americans access to reliable high-speed internet;
- Helps us tackle the climate crisis by making history’s most significant investment in clean energy transmission and E.V. infrastructure; and,
- Will also electrify schools and buses across the country; and creating a new Grid Deployment Authority to build a clean, 21st-century electric grid.
The US falls deeply short when compared to China’s investment.
As good as this bill sounds and its many advantages, it seems crucial to put into perspective the amount of investment the US has invested from 2017 to 2020 and compare it to what China has invested during the same period.
Clearly, it can be noted that China has invested more than 435.5% year-over-year in infrastructure. China invests 8.5% of its Gross Domestic Product in infrastructure while the United States has invested 2% of its GDP at least in the last 10 years.
These are the total investment in infrastructure from 2017 to 2020 for China and the US:
In comparison, the infrastructure bill introduced by the Senate does not come close to what China invests annually, which averages $2.25 trillion a year, versus the US average, which averages $420.3 billion, or 435.5% less.
We cannot say that the United States is the leading economic power if its investment in infrastructure is deficient.
Lastly, it dawned on me the percentage of GDP that Puerto Rico is investing in infrastructure, and we note the average is a range of 1.3% to 2.1%. Also, in 2019, the American Society of Civil Engineers, Puerto Rico Chapter report gave Puerto Rico’s infrastructure a grade of D-. But, don’t despair —the US has a rating of D+. The final message is that both the US and Puerto Rico now have a unique opportunity to revamp their infrastructure to make it more resilient and improve citizens’ lives.