By Ramona du Houx

April 2, 2021

Infrastructure and the climate crisis are intrinsically linked. America’s crumbling infrastructure is a major reason why transportation as a whole is the leading source of carbon pollution in the United States. It’s clear that addressing infrastructure will jumpstart efforts to address the climate crisis. That’s why millions of the jobs created as a result of the American Jobs Act (AJA) fall within the clean energy sector.

Biden’s proposal includes at least $650 billion in spending over 10 years on a U.S. clean energy transition. That’s about seven times the largest previous injection of federal money into clean energy—$90 billion from President Obama’s recovery act economic stimulus package. Then Vice President Biden was tasked with administering the initiative.

The AJA will lead to a transformational progress in our effort to tackle climate change by growing American jobs and investing in American ingenuity.  It aims to protect communities from billions of dollars of damage from super storms, floods, wildfires, and droughts by making our grid infrastructure, transportation infrastructure, clean energy infrastructure and farmlands more secure and resilient. 

The AJA is first and foremost will create jobs while addressing environmental injustice and cutting the pollution that drives climate change. It will dedicate billions to rebuilding our infrastructure, put hundreds of thousands of people to work building roads and railways, fixing bridges, building 500,000 EV charging stations and improving the public transit that supports the economy.

Top economists agree that clean energy is a smart investment in our long-term growth that will make U.S. companies more productive and competitive and add trillions of dollars to our economy.

To pay for the America Jobs Act (AJA) the president proposed different levers. First, he’d return the corporate tax rate back to 21 percent, the percentage it was at before former President Trump lowered it. Second, big global corporations like Amazon and 90 others will finally pay a tax rate of 21 percent. Now, through loopholes, they are paying $0 in US taxes. Both measures would cover the costs of the AJA over fifteen years.

He will also eliminate deductions by corporations for offshoring jobs and shifting assets overseas to use those savings to give companies tax credits to locate manufacturing here.

There is strong support for a plan to pay for these infrastructure investments by asking the wealthy and corporations to pay their fair share. A recent Politico/Morning Consult poll found that by more than a 2-to-1 margin, voters say they would be more likely to support an infrastructure plan paid for by raising taxes on the wealthy and big business The approach was supported by 47 percent of voters in the survey, and opposed by only 21 percent.

Key climate elements of Biden’s AJA with the overall goal of putting the nation on track to a 100 percent carbon-pollution-free electricity sector by 2035:

  • The largest single climate-related provision in the plan is $213 billion to build, modernize and weatherize affordable housing, which merges Biden’s climate and economic justice goals. Biden is calling on Congress to develop a new competitive grant program that would give state and local governments incentives to eliminate discriminating zoning policies that have made near impossible for many families to find affordable housing.
  • Biden proposes spending $174 billion to accelerate a transition to EV’s in the United States through consumer incentives like tax credits to purchasers of EVs, the building of a network of 500,000 EV charging stations, and direct federal spending. There would be federal funding for converting school buses to electric vehicles.
  • The proposal also includes $100 billion for power grid modernization and resilience, both intended to stave off catastrophic outages like the one that was blamed for 70 deaths in Texas last February, and the blackouts in California during the fire and extreme heat last summer. The system would be upgraded to handle and transport wind and solar energy. A new Grid Deployment Authority, will make better use of existing rights-of-ways along roads and railways to site new high-voltage transmission lines. 
  • Biden would make an historic $85 billion investment in modernizing public transit, support that mass transit systems. A key aim of the program is to bring bus, rapid transit and rail service to underserved communities and neighborhoods across the country. 
  • The plan calls for a $35 billion investment in clean technology research and development, including the launching of a new incubator for cutting edge research. Biden proposes spending $15 billion in demonstration projects that will be key for tackling climate, like utility-scale energy storage, carbon capture and storage, hydrogen, advanced nuclear, rare earth element separations and floating offshore wind.
  • $16 billion would be spent employing union oil and gas workers to cap abandoned oil and gas wells and clean up mines, not only helping address unemployment in fossil fuel communities, but addressing emissions of the climate super-pollutant methane from the orphaned facilities.
  • A federal Energy Efficiency and Clean Electricity Standard will be established, requiring utilities to deliver a certain percentage of electricity from renewable or other clean energy sources.
  • A $10 billion investment would be made in a new “Civilian Climate Corps.” In addition to conservation of public lands and waters projects, which was the focus of Roosevelt’s CCC, Biden’s Corps would be deployed on projects to bolster community resilience and advance environmental justice. 

The following is how President Joseph Biden proposes to pay for the AJA in his own words on March 31,2021, when he announced the plan in Pennsylvania.

The President:

“So, here’s what I’d do.  I start with one rule: No one — let me say it again — no one making under $400,000 will see their federal taxes go up.  Period.  This is not about penalizing anyone. . .  I want everyone to do well. 

“But here’s the deal: Right now, a middle-class couple — a firefighter and a teacher with two kids — making a combined salary of, say, $110-, $120,000 a year pays 22 cents for each additional dollar they earn in federal income tax.  But a multinational corporation that builds a factory abroad — brings it home and then sell it — they pay nothing at all.  We’re going to raise the corporate tax.  It was 35 percent, which is too high.  We all agreed, five years ago, it should go down to 28 percent, but they reduced it to 21 percent.  We’re going to raise it back to — up to 28 percent.  No one should be able to complain about that.  It’s still lower than what that rate was between World War Two and 2017.  Just doing that one thing will generate $1 trillion in additional revenue over 15 years.

“In 2019, an independent analysis found that are 91 — let me say it again, 91 Fortune 500 companies — the biggest companies in the world, including Amazon — they used various loopholes so they’d pay not a single solitary penny in federal income tax.  I don’t want to punish them, but that’s just wrong.  That’s just wrong.  A fireman and a teacher paying 22 percent?  Amazon and 90 other major corporations are paying zero in federal taxes? I’m going to put an end to that, and here’s how we’ll do it.  We’re establishing a global minimum tax for U.S. corporations of 21 percent.  We’re going to level the international playing field.  That alone will raise $1 trillion over 15 years. 

“We’ll also eliminate deductions by corporations for offshoring jobs and shifting assets overseas.  You do that, you pay a penalty; you don’t get a reward in my plan.  And use the savings from that to give companies tax credits to locate manufacturing here — in manufacturing and production here in the United States.  And we’ll significantly ramp up the IRS enforcement against corporations who either fail to report their incomes or under-report.  It’s estimated that could raise hundreds of billions of dollars.  All of this adds up to more than what I’ve proposed to spend in just 15 years.

It’s honest.  It’s fiscally responsible.  And by the way, as the experts will tell you, it reduces the debt — the federal debt over the long haul.”