President Joe Biden defended his definition of infrastructure during a speech at the White House on Wednesday on his proposed $2.5 trillion infrastructure plan.
“The idea of infrastructure has always evolved to meet the aspirations of the American people and their needs,” Biden said. “And it is evolving again today.”
Biden defied Republican criticism that his bill did not spend enough on roads, bridges, airports, and ports, and too much on “Green New Deal” priorities.
“That’s just not rational, it really isn’t,” Biden said defiantly.
Only about 25 percent of Biden’s proposed $2.5 trillion plan actually funds basic infrastructure, including roads, bridges, airports, and ports as well as rail projects, replacing lead pipes and water systems, electric transmission systems, and the expansion of broadband internet.
But Biden defended proposed spending on climate change initiatives including electric vehicles and charging stations, electric school busses and federal vehicles, and clean energy technology.
He argued the natural disasters destroying homes and businesses were a consequence of climate change, which had to be addressed in future spending plans.
Biden urged Americans to dream of a time when their children could travel on high-speed rail as fast as an airplane or traveling across the country on a single tank of gas.
“That’s why I brought scientists back into the White House,” he said.
He warned China and other countries in the world were investing heavily into research and development, and that America had to do the same.
China, he argued, was “counting on American Democracy to be too slow, too limited, and too divided to keep pace” with them.
Biden said he would be willing to negotiate with Republicans on the details of his plan, but wanted to do something.
“We will not be open to doing nothing. Inaction is simply not an option,” Biden said.
He also said he wanted to pay for the massive spending plan with higher taxes on the wealthy and corporations.
“I’m not trying to punish anybody but dammit, maybe it’s because I come from a middle-class neighborhood, I’m sick and tired of ordinary people getting fleeced,” he said.
Biden acknowledged he was willing to negotiate the corporate tax rate, which he wanted to raise from 21 percent to 28 percent.
“I’m willing to listen to that,” he told reporters after his speech.