US Democrats approve billion-trillion package to refurbish infrastructure – Economy

If you want to experience the other dark side of the United States in addition to the glittering world of Manhattan, simply board a train on subway line 7 in Times Square and travel east for 30 minutes. . minutes. Here, in the immediate vicinity of the baseball and tennis stadiums, is Willet Points, a neighborhood one would expect to be in Mumbai or Calcutta, but not in the self-proclaimed capital of the world: the streets with their pavements. cracked tar are reminiscent of downhill ski resorts. Mogul tracks – lined with half-disused cars and dead trees. Garbage and car tires float in oily, shimmering mud puddles, power lines hang from wooden masts. There is no sewage system that could drain the sewage from the many small auto shops.

This is America that visitors to Europe rarely see. For many American citizens, it is everyday life. America of power outages, dead spots and railroad company Amtrak, whose meager rail network has as much in common with the high-speed lines of Japan, France and Germany as a horse-drawn vehicle with a Formula 1 racing car. It is America whose modernization Congress finally wants to tackle: after the Senate, the House of Representatives also approved on Saturday evening an infrastructure renovation program, which in total total spending over a trillion dollars (about 850 billion euros) includes.

The passage of the law is a success, especially for President Joe Biden, whom he desperately needs after a long controversy in Congress and in view of the poor results of the polls. This is all the more true since the months of paralysis in Parliament were not due to the usual bickering between the government and the opposition, but rather a tangible conflict within Biden’s own Democratic Party. Although virtually all MPs are behind the infrastructure program, the strong left wing of the party, the “progressives”, has repeatedly blocked a parliamentary vote in order to force the approval of the “centrists” to another, around two. billion expensive, social and climate package from the government. However, that failed again on Friday as some centrists demanded more figures on the cost of social reforms.

Pelosi forces his party to vote

In order to finally pass at least the infrastructure package, Nancy Pelosi, spokeswoman for the House of Representatives, finally forced her party friends to vote on Saturday evening. In the end, the government came out victorious – but only because 13 Republican MPs also approved the bill. Six progressive Democrats, on the other hand, voted no on principle.

The infrastructure package provides for new spending amounting to $ 550 billion as well as the reallocation of already approved funds of an additional $ 450 billion. The state plans to spend around $ 110 billion on road and bridge repairs alone, and $ 73 billion is budgeted for renovating the partially weather-vulnerable power grid. The modernization of the railways will cost 66 billion dollars, for the extension of the broadband network and the rehabilitation of the water pipes contaminated with lead, the government plans to provide respectively 65 billion and 55 billion dollars. An additional 39 billion will be devoted to the modernization of local public transport. Older people and people with disabilities in particular have little opportunity to use the narrow and outdated buses and trains in cities like New York. 7.5 billion dollars will be invested in the construction of a national network of charging stations for electric cars.

Much of the law must be funded by reallocating funds that have been earmarked for other purposes. But budget deficits are also set to rise sharply: According to calculations by the independent Congressional budget office, the program will require an additional net borrowing of $ 256 billion over the next ten years.

Whether Biden will be able to implement Part 2 of his reform agenda remains to be seen.

The question now is what will happen to Biden’s social and climate agenda, which includes the removal of the often horrendous childcare fees for three and four year olds, the permanent introduction of some sort of child care allowance. children and tens of billions to reduce CO₂ emissions. The massive additional spending must be funded through tax increases for businesses and wealthy citizens.

The chances of early adoption in the House of Representatives are not bad. Five key representatives of the centrists signaled their approval in writing on Friday in the event that the cost review by the congressional budget office did not reveal any unexpected additional costs. The next hurdle would be the Senate, where Democrats only have a majority thanks to the vote of Vice President Kamala Harris. However, two of their senators, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, are rejecting parts of the package and have already ensured that Biden has reduced total planned spending from the original 3.5 trillion to just under. of 2 trillion.

From the president’s point of view, infrastructure and the social package are essential elements of his economic reform program, with which he wants to make the United States more competitive internationally and reduce social inequalities in the country. The fact that Democrats blocked their own plans contributed to the party’s recent losing the important gubernatorial election in Virginia and Biden’s approval rating falling to the lowest level of a president. has recorded after twelve months in office over the past 40 years – with the exception of Donald Trump.

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