The American Jobs Plan: A Bold Down Payment for a More Just Future

The America Jobs Plan establishes a bold vision and new social contract for our nation's long-term economic recovery. It tackles climate change, addresses past investment challenges, and makes a significant down payment for fixing our nation’s aging infrastructure.

President Biden, in announcing this historic undertaking, called on Congress to "update the social contract that provides workers with a fair shot to get ahead, overcome racial and other inequalities that have been barriers for too many Americans, expand the middle class, and strengthen communities." Funding public infrastructure remains one of the critical opportunities of federal investments that leading economists agree will address the challenges of this moment and create a better foundation for future generations to build upon by leaving the country more competitive and our communities stronger. 

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Benefits of Biden's Infrastructure Plan

Unlike past infrastructure promises, the American Jobs Plan outlines a comprehensive vision and prioritizes addressing long-standing inequities that have systematically excluded and harmed generations of Black, brown, indigenous, and low-income people. It targets 40 percent of the benefits of climate and clean infrastructure investments to disadvantaged communities. The plan also invests in rural communities and communities impacted by polluting industries and extractive development.

The American Jobs Plan makes new investments in critical physical, social, and civic infrastructure.

  • Accelerates Transformative Transportation Investment: The President's plan includes transportation investments that double federal funding for public transit, address the repair backlog, and provide bus, bus rapid transit, and rail service to communities and neighborhoods across the country. The plan also includes a Healthy Ports program to mitigate air pollution's cumulative impacts on neighborhoods near ports, often communities of color. It seeks to modernize U.S. highways, roads, and main streets, not only "fixing them first" but "fixing them right," with safety, resilience, and all users in mind.
  • Bridges the Racial Divide and Creates Greater Housing Options: The President's plan includes a new program that will reconnect neighborhoods cut off by legacy highway projects and ensure new projects increase opportunity, advance racial equity and environmental justice, and promote affordable access. Additionally, for decades, exclusionary zoning laws ranging from the prohibitions on multifamily housing, mandatory parking, and minimum lot sizes requirements have inflated housing and construction costs and limited housing options for families seeking communities with more opportunities. President Biden called on Congress to enact a competitive grant program so local leaders will take concrete steps to eliminate barriers to produce more housing options. The plan seeks to improve housing options and increase the U.S. housing supply to produce, preserve, and retrofit more than two million affordable and sustainable places to live.
  • Ensure Clean, Safe Drinking Water in All Communities: Across the country, water affordability remains a challenge, pipes and treatment plants are aging, and polluted drinking water is endangering public health in thousands of communities nationwide. The President's plan will improve, upgrade, and modernize the drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater systems, tackle new contaminants, and support clean water infrastructure.
  • Establishes Standards for a More Just & Equitable Clean Energy Future: The Biden plan establishes "Energy Efficiency and Clean Electricity Standard (EECES)" that seeks to increase competition in the market while reducing both electricity bills and putting the nation on the path to 100 percent carbon-pollution-free power by 2035.
  • Revitalizes Distressed Communities: The shift toward clean energy presents an opportunity to revitalize distressed communities by developing new markets and new industries. The President's plan proposes ten carbon capture demonstration projects for large steel, cement, and chemical production facilities, while committing to ensure that overburdened communities remain protected from increases in cumulative pollution.
  • Addresses Orphaned Oil & Gas Wells and Abandoned Mines, Particularly in Rural Communities: In communities across the country, hundreds of thousands of orphaned oil and gas wells and abandoned mines pose serious public health, environmental, and safety hazards. Many of these old wells and mines are located in rural communities that have suffered from years of disinvestment. Biden's plan includes an immediate up-front investment to reduce hazardous leaks, reclaim abandoned mines, while creating good-paying jobs in hard-hit communities.
  • Makes Polluting Industries Pay for Environmental Clean-Up: The President's plan proposes to restore payments from polluters into the Superfund Trust Fund to cover the cost of cleanups.
  • Gets Workers Back to Work: The American Jobs Plan will spur the economy with major transportation, water infrastructure, building and housing investments that will offer short and long-term job opportunities for workers, particularly trade and union workers. President Biden's plan establishes a Clean Energy and Sustainability Accelerator to mobilize private investment into distributed energy resources, clean transportation, and retrofits of residential, commercial, and municipal buildings. These investments have a particular focus on disadvantaged communities that have not yet benefited from clean energy investments.

What Does the Biden Recovery Plan Mean for You?

Most people in the U.S.—particularly renters—spend more than half their income on rent, transportation, and home energy costs. The President's plan will help address the growing cost of rent and create jobs that pay prevailing wages, including through project labor agreements with a free and fair choice to join a union and bargain collectively.

Investment in cleaner transportation options, water and waste sewer systems, energy efficiency, clean energy future combined with addressing racial inequities, discriminatory policies, and climate change will further our progress as a nation.

Congress Must ACT Now

The cost of inaction by Congress means higher household expenses (e.g., housing, transportation, energy, and water), more car repairs, dirtier water, air pollution, and chronic illness and increased vulnerability to incidents of extreme weather.

Climate change exacerbates the situation as millions of people in the U.S. feel the social, economic, and environmental effects of extreme weather each year. In 2020, there were 22 extreme weather/climate disaster events with losses exceeding $1 billion each to affect the United States. Currently, the total cost of U.S. weather and climate disasters exceeds $1.875 trillion since the 1980s, nearly the American Jobs Plan's estimated cost. These numbers represent more than just economic losses to the economy, increasing risk of disaster threatens to plunge millions into poverty and deepen crises for those already suffering. The President's plan will "future proof" investments that seek to ensure the current and future generations will benefit from a safe, equitable and sustainable infrastructure system.

We all must do our part to ensure congressional leaders advance a more just, climate-resilient future by making a significant investment in our nation's infrastructure. Infrastructure has traditionally been a bipartisan issue beyond the beltway with overwhelming support from the American public. U.S. mayors and governors across party lines continue to highlight infrastructure as a critical and urgent priority.

Congress must work with the Administration to advance the vision outlined in the American Jobs Plan. President Biden’s American Jobs Plan provides a framework for Congressional action to spur the U.S. economic recovery, heal from past investment, improve our nation's productivity and long-term growth.

About the Authors

Stephanie Gidigbi Jenkins

Director of Policy & Partnerships, Healthy People & Thriving Communities Program

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