Gary Wilson's thoughts on Great Lakes issues and occasionally, other things
Comprehensive $2.3 trillion plan redefines infrastructure but fails to include an end to drinking water shut offs.
President Biden released his long-awaited infrastructure plan recently and there's seemingly something for everyone. Traditional infrastructure projects like roads, bridges and airports? Yep, they're covered. Emerging infrastructure like expanding broadband, covered. Neglected forever issues like replacing lead pipes that deliver water to homes? It made the cut.
Then there's taking care of caregivers, a worthy endeavor but not infrastructure you may say. It is now. What about bad local zoning laws. That too is an infrastructure issue according to the president.
There are so many things in the plan and so much money to flow from the federal coffers that it prompted New York Times columnist Farhad Manjoo to write that it reminded him of an Oprah giveaway.
"Here’s $400 billion for home care workers, $300 billion for manufacturers, $100 billion for
workforce development — but wait, there’s more! The electric grid, water systems, broadband — you get $100 billion, and you get $100 billion, and you get $100 billion," Manjoo said.
And there's more, most of us won't have to pay for the largesse. Congress willing, Biden is sending the bill to wealthy people and corporations. It's magic, those guys finally have to pay up.
By the way, Biden's plan isn't even an infrastructure plan, it's a jobs plan... The American Jobs Plan. A little misdirection to help garner support from the people. I know, grow up, it's Washington.
What's not in it? Probably a lot but one thing jumps off the page. An end to drinking water shutoffs for people who can't afford to pay their water bills.
A plan from a well-respected, progressive president that tosses a billion dollars around like it's a nickel couldn't find $1.5 billion to end water shutoffs. That's how much Michigan Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Debbie Dingell, both Democrats, are asking for according to Detroit News reporting. Tlaib, in the News story said the White House was listening to what she and Dingell had to say.
Listening? I'd hope so.
We're about to embark on an infrastructure program for generations to come and it won't end water shut offs? C'mon!
Biden's infrastructure, uh... jobs plan will be dissected and debated for months in Congress.The final product? Roads and bridges for sure. Biden is all in on cars, he just wants electric ones and they need roads and bridges too. Airports and broadband, in. But some of the softer items may not make the cut. Not everyone in Washington and Congress is enamored with Biden's unilateral redefining of what constitutes infrastructure.
But I'm sure people struggling to pay for drinking water will be enamored with the president if he could see fit to keep their taps on, no matter what. Besides, it's the right thing to do.
Photo: Greater Detroit, the Detroit River and Windsor, Ontario courtesy of NASA.
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Chicago-based environmental journalist