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The Guardian

Biden urges Republicans to back $ 2 billion infrastructure plan: ‘Inaction is not an option’

President Says Package Is Key To Preserving US Economic Status Blue Collar Audience Plan To Increase Opportunities ‘At the White House, Joe Biden said:’ We need to show the world and, much more important, we have to show ourselves that democracy works, that we can come together on the big things. Photograph: Kevin Lamarque / Reuters Joe Biden made a heartfelt appeal for Republicans to work with him on a $ 2 billion infrastructure plan, deeming it essential to preserve U.S. superpower status and warning: “L ‘inaction is just not an option. ” The US president has indicated he is prepared to negotiate his proposed corporate tax rate of 28% to fund the package. This is a big increase from the 21% levy set by his predecessor Donald Trump’s 2017 tax bill, although it is lower than the 35% rate under Barack Obama. But Biden has also become fiery in sounding the alarm bells about a nation in decline, investing less in infrastructure now than 25 years ago and risking losing an existential struggle with China. Biden’s promise as a candidate to seek bipartisanship has so far hit a wall from the Republican opposition, first to his $ 1.9 billion coronavirus relief package and now to its $ 2 billion infrastructure investment – although opinion polls suggest both are popular with Republican voters. On Wednesday, with Kamala Harris, the vice president, by his side at the Eisenhower Office Building in Washington, he continued to try to appeal across the aisle while making it clear he would go ahead. if necessary. Promising that he and Harris will meet with both Democrats and Republicans in the coming weeks, Biden said, “The debate is welcome. Compromise is inevitable. The changes are certain… We will listen to you. We will be open to good ideas and good faith negotiations, but this is what we will not be open to. We will not be prepared to do nothing. Inaction is simply not an option. Republican opposition to the US jobs plan has focused on tax hikes and what they support is too broad a definition of infrastructure. The president sought to neutralize this argument. “Two hundred years ago, trains weren’t traditional infrastructure either, until America made the choice to create tracks across the country,” he said. “Highways were not traditional infrastructure until we allowed ourselves to imagine that roads could connect our nation across national borders. “The idea of ​​infrastructure has always evolved to meet the aspirations of the American people and their needs, and it is evolving again today. We need to start seeing infrastructure through its effects on the lives of American workers. »Broadband Internet, an electricity grid that will not collapse in a winter storm, investing in” Made in America “products from all communities, pipes that provide clean water, clean energy and Facilities for veterans are part of the foundation of Vivant in the 21st Century, Biden continued. The potential for job creation is immense, he said, including for people without a college degree – a demographic group that backed Donald Trump in the presidential election. “This is a blue collar plan to increase opportunities for the American people.” Biden attempted to draw a line from the staff – “How many of you know that when you send your child to school, the fountain they are drinking from is not being fed by a lead pipe?” – to geopolitics, suggesting that in the coming months a lot will be written about how China and the rest of the world is running ahead of the United States to invest in the future. “Previously, we invested nearly 2.7% of our GDP in infrastructure. Now it’s about 0.7%. When we invested it, we were the world leader. I don’t know why we don’t understand that. One of the few large economies in the world whose public investment in research and development has declined as a percentage of GDP over the past 25 years. “These are not Republican bridges, Democratic airports, Republican hospitals or a Democratic electricity grid Joe Biden Visibly angry, he exploded:” Refused! ” The United States of America, which led the world! As in previous speeches, Biden framed the imperative as in the context of competition with China and a fundamental battle for the future between democracies and autocracies. Beijing is not waiting to invest in digital infrastructure, research and development, he said. “But they are counting on American democracy to be too slow, too limited and too divided to keep pace. “We have to show the world and, more importantly, we have to show ourselves that democracy works, that we can come together on the big things. It’s the United States of America, for goodness sake. Partisan divisions shouldn’t stop America from doing the right thing for the future, Biden added. “These are not Republican bridges, Democratic airports, Republican hospitals or a Democratic electricity grid… We are at an inflection point in American democracy. It is a time when we prove whether or not democracy can be effective. Biden insisted he was open to ideas on how to pay for the plan, but once again ruled out tax increases for people earning less than $ 400,000 a year. The corporate tax rate was 35%, he noted, but Trump reduced it to 21%. “What I’m suggesting is that we meet in the middle: 28%.” Later, when questioned by reporters, he said he could agree to a rate below 28% as long as the projects were funded. “I’m ready to listen to this. I’m wide open, but we have to pay for this. We have to pay for it. “There are many other ways to do it. But I am ready to negotiate this. I have come up with the best, most rational, in my opinion, the fairest way to pay for it, but there are many other ways as well. And I am open. But an exchange on Twitter on Wednesday highlighted the steep rise Biden faces in working with Republicans, many of whom remain in Trump’s grip. Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democratic senator, tweeted: “Paid leave is infrastructure. Child care is an infrastructure. Caregiving is infrastructure. South Dakota Republican Governor Kristi Noem replied, “So what ISN’T infrastructure?”

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