President Biden’s proposed plan to overhaul the country’s infrastructure by fixing roads, rebuilding bridges, and investing in water systems, power grids, broadband and public transit, among other things, has been criticized by Republicans who think it deviates too much from the traditional definition of infrastructure. And it’s been met with both support and criticism from the construction industry.
While the plan is nowhere near a done deal, Congress still must negotiate the details before it even comes up for a vote, the $2.3-trillion American Jobs Plan, unveiled by the President, calls for a comprehensive infrastructure package designed to create millions of good paying jobs and help grow the economy. The plan calls for $115 billion to fix roads and rebuild bridges and $42 billion for ports and airports. It also includes upgrades to public transit, $100 billion for broadband and $111 billion for water infrastructure.
The President has said he intends to pay for this by raising corporate tax rates from 21% to 28%. That rate had been lowered by the Trump administration under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act from 35% to 21% beginning in 2018.
While President Biden sees the plan as a way to grow the economy, build up the nation’s infrastructure and create millions of jobs, construction industry associations have given it mixed reviews, citing concern over the corporate tax rate increase as well as support for labor unions. Some think it will impose new regulatory and labor requirements on employers. Here’s some of the reactions to how the proposed American Jobs Plan might affect hiring in the construction industry.
START THE CONVERSATION
“The president’s plan will accelerate a long overdue conversation about how to modernize our roads, bridges, public transit and other infrastructure systems. The most important thing is not whose plan passes Congress, but that at the end of the process, the American people have increased mobility, and the competitiveness of the U.S. economy is strengthened.”
Dave Bauer, President and CEO of the American Road & Transportation Builders Association
CORPORATE TAX INCREASE
“We greet the President’s new infrastructure proposal with mixed emotions. On one hand, the President is right to focus on rebuilding a broad range of aging and overburdened infrastructure and modernizing buildings. These investments will create a significant number of new construction career opportunities that traditionally pay well above jobs in other industries. Unfortunately, the President seeks to saddle these new investments with a host of labor and regulatory measures that will hurt workers and offset many of the economic benefits of these new infrastructure investments.
“The president’s proposal to finance the new investments primarily via an increase in the corporate tax rate will likely undermine many of its economic benefits. That is because these new tax hikes will limit the ability of many employers to invest in capital improvement that will provide additional career opportunities for construction workers.”
Stephen Sandherr, CEO of the Associated General Contractors of America.
“While policy details are still emerging and the infrastructure plan will need to go through Congress, it is disappointing to see the Biden administration support the use of divisive government-mandated project labor agreement schemes on taxpayer-funded construction projects.
Government-mandated PLAs exclude more than 87% of the U.S. construction workforce from rebuilding their communities and benefitting from well-paying middle-class jobs created by taxpayer investments in infrastructure. It also means taxpayers will spend 20% more per mandated PLA project, which results in fewer infrastructure improvements and less job creation to help America rebound from the pandemic’s economic devastation.
Michael Bellama, President and CEO of the Associated Builders and Contractors.
TIME TO ACT IS NOW
“President Biden’s plan reflects many of the priorities outlined in AEM’s ‘The U.S. Infrastructure Report’ framework, including modernizing aging infrastructure assets to guarantee our global economic competitiveness, expanding broadband connectivity, creating new sector partnerships, boosting work-based learning programs, and ensuring that state and local governments have the fiscal resources they need.”
“Equipment manufacturers applaud President Biden for seizing this generational opportunity to rebuild our country and jump start the economy, and we look forward to working with his administration, as well as both parties in Congress, to swiftly advance and pass commonsense and bipartisan legislation under regular order.”
Dennis Slater, President of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers
WORKERS ARE READY
“Asphalt pavements are critical to creating world-class roads, highways, and airfields. President Biden’s proposal to renew 20,000 miles of roads will directly benefit from the latest innovative asphalt pavement technologies that are economical, resilient, and environmentally friendly. The 150,000 essential, skilled workers throughout our industry stand ready to modernize these roadways.”
Audrey Copeland, Ph.D., P.E., President and CEO of the National Asphalt Pavement Association
PATH TO JOBS
“The time is long overdue for the federal government to provide the investments needed to restore the nation’s infrastructure to the envy of the world. There is no better way to put the United States on the path to long-term economic growth and job creation than investments in transportation, water, telecommunications and energy infrastructure.”
Brian McGuire, president and CEO of the Associated Equipment Distributors
INVESTMENT IS KEY
“The American Jobs Plan would cut significantly into these funding gaps and ensure that the federal government is working with state and local governments to make these much-needed investments. As the nation looks to revitalize and jumpstart the economy, ASCE believes that infrastructure investment is the key to long-term recovery and prosperity, as well as providing access and opportunity to communities across the country."
Jean-Louis Briaud, Ph.D., P.E., President of the American Society of Civil Engineers
MUST PAY FOR IT
“I think you got to figure out a way to pay for it. We have talked about gas taxes. We have talked about tolls and registrations. We have talked about government taxes as far as infrastructure goes. At the end of the day, we have to figure out how to pay for it. I do think there is a model there that users pay more for the roads, and we are a big user of that.”
Ronnie Pruitt, CEO of U.S. Concrete