President Joe Biden

Vice President Kamala Harris, left, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi applaud as President Joe Biden addresses a joint session of Congress on Wednesday.

— Washington Post photo via AP/Melina Mara, Pool

President Joe Biden laid out a long list of policy priorities in his speech to Congress last week including a massive $2.3 trillion infrastructure proposal that would give a big boost to the economy while repairing the nation’s roads and bridges.

The president came to the 30th Street Amtrak Station on Friday to celebrate the rail service’s 50th anniversary and to promote his sweeping infrastructure plan.

It is unlikely that Biden’s ambitious plan will pass in its current form. Changes to the proposal will be necessary to reduce costs and eliminate inappropriate spending. The plan must be economically inclusive and ensure that all Americans, especially Black Americans and other groups that have been historically excluded, share in the new jobs that will be created.

Biden’s plan would rebuild roads and bridges, boost broadband access and make other improvements.

“We’ve talked about it long enough — Democrats and Republicans,” Biden said in his speech last week to a joint session of Congress. “Let’s get it done this year.”

A plan to rebuild the nation’s old and crumbling infrastructure is long overdue.

Rebuilding infrastructure is an area where the two major parties should be able to work together.

Republicans have proposed a much smaller $568 billion infrastructure package and both sides have shown a willingness to negotiate. But their differences are broad — including on how they would pay for the plans and whether to raise taxes.

Democrats should pass a major infrastructure boost this year, with or without GOP support.

Biden plans to pay for the plan by reorienting corporate taxes and by increasing taxes on the wealthy. Biden says his proposal for about $1.5 trillion in tax hikes will only target households making $400,000 or more.

Both organized labor, which sees the potential for union jobs, and business groups have long backed bold investment in infrastructure. Where they differ is how to pay for it.

Economists say failure by political leaders to reach an agreement on investing in infrastructure could be devastating for America’s economic future. Once the economy bounces back from the pandemic, economists expect growth to fade below the relatively sluggish levels of the Obama and Trump eras. Infrastructure is a central way to increase worker productivity, the ultimate source of wealth and productivity.

“It’s the first time that I see a comprehensive plan that truly can have a fundamental change in American productivity,” said Sadek Wahba, founder of the infrastructure investment firm I Squared Capital. “This is really the moment. If we’re not able to do it now, I would be very, very pessimistic about our ability to maintain our productivity over the coming decade.”

If done right, spending on infrastructure can boost private investment and growth and spur job creation.

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