President Joe Biden was in Pittsburgh, PA, yesterday to announce the roll-out of his infrastructure plan for the USA. The two-part plan, which, he said, was not a plan that 'tinkers around the edges', is designed to create millions of good-paying jobs and grow the US economy in the process.
In fact, the American Jobs Plan is the largest American jobs investment programme since World War Two.
Speaking at the Carpenters Pittsburgh Training Centre, President Biden described the Plan as big and bold and that he was in town to discuss part one of the plan – the American Jobs Plan. Part two is the American Family Plan, but Biden's focus was clearly on the former.
His words will certainly be music to the ears of steel company executives around the country who have been calling for something like this for many years as American bridges crumble and roads fall into disrepair. Biden's plan is all about modernizing transportation infrastructure. "Our roads, our bridges, our airports," he said, noting that Pittsburgh's own airport was going to be renovated and that thousands of people would be employed to do it. There are plans to modernise 20,000 miles of highways roads and main streets that Biden admitted were 'in difficult shape right now'.
"It'll fix the nation's 10 most economically significant bridges in America that require replacement," he said, adding that it will also repair 10,000 bridges, providing desperately needed upgrades to keep people safe 'and connect our cities, towns and tribes across the country'.
In keeping with former President Trump's 'America First' policy, Biden said that with all investments he will make sure that 'we buy American'. "That means investing in American-based companies and American workers," he said, adding that 'we'll buy the goods we need from all of America'. And by 'all' he meant the Black, Latino, Asian American, Native American, rural, small businesses, entrepreneurs across the country'.
Biden gave a rousing speech, reiterating the notion that in America anything is possible. He spoke of creating 18 million jobs over four years and investing $2 trillion over the next eight years to fix the USA's crumbling infrastructure, reminding the world that the US was ranked 13th in the world in terms of its infrastructure.
Philip K Bell, president of the US-based Steel Manufacturers Association, the trade body representing the country's environment-friendly electric steelmakers, the predominant force in US steelmaking, made this statement on behalf of the SMA:
“The SMA is pleased with today’s announcement and President Biden’s focus on infrastructure. The American Jobs Plan will result in an historic capital investment in America to improve our competitiveness, create millions of jobs, rebuild our infrastructure, address climate change and prepare our economy for the crises and the threats we will face in the future. We support the administration’s emphasis on strong domestic procurement preferences that help ensure that the steel used in our nation’s infrastructure is made by Americans for Americans and is melted and poured here and not abroad. This has a dual benefit. First, it creates more steel demand. For every trillion dollars invested in infrastructure over five million tons of carbon steel demand is created. Second, using American made steel is better for our environment. The United States produces the cleanest steel in the world with the lowest CO2 intensity of any major steel producing country.
“It is essential that our country has a well-funded, long-term and comprehensive approach to our infrastructure needs. Funding for the proposal should include an 'all of the above strategy' that incorporates increased user fees, revenue from gas taxes and Public Private Partnerships (PPPs). We look forward to working with the administration and Congress to enact legislation that ensures American made steel is used to rebuild our country’s critical infrastructure.”
Pittsburgh-based US Steel president and CEO David B. Burritt, commented:
“We appreciate the president calling for a meaningful investment in the nation’s infrastructure, and for doing so in a city whose history and people have helped build the backbone of this country.
“President Biden has rightly recognized that investing in infrastructure is the no regrets way to help both the US economy and the environment. We know that the urgency of global competition and the climate crisis require more from all of us.
"We haven’t funded infrastructure properly and it has become a drag on the economy – one that continues to grow with every passing day. If we invest as we should, we will create millions of manufacturing jobs, strengthen US competitiveness globally and save households money all while setting a new bar for sustainability.
“Congress and the administration should work together to take decisive action on infrastructure. The benefits to our society and economy will be both swift and long lasting.”
News that action was being taken on infrastructure was welcomed by Kevin Dempsey, president and CEO of the American Iron and Steel Institute.
“AISI greatly appreciates President Biden’s commitment to building back better America’s roads, bridges, waterways, rail, electrical grid and other critical infrastructure – and doing it with American made steel. American steel production is the cleanest in the world, and the industry is essential to providing sustainable infrastructure solutions and good-paying jobs. Each one billion dollars in infrastructure spending requires about 50,000 net tons of steel, and each trillion dollars invested in infrastructure has the potential to create 11 million jobs in our economy over the next decade. We are pleased that today’s proposal continues strong domestic procurement preferences for federally funded infrastructure projects which are essential to ensuring taxpayer dollars are used to purchase American steel and other made-in-America products.
“In terms of funding, AISI’s view is that the best way to fund infrastructure is through a dedicated user fee rather than through the corporate income tax, revenues from which go to the general treasury. AISI has long advocated for bolstering the user fees that are dedicated to funding the Highway Trust Fund and other infrastructure funding mechanisms. This is important to provide the needed certainty in terms of funding for states to implement long-term steel-intensive infrastructure projects. While this is not currently part of the president’s proposal, we look forward to continuing to work with the administration and Congress to develop a bipartisan legislative package that supports long-term, sustainable funding and ensures that steel that is melted and poured in the US is used to rebuild America’s roads, bridges, water systems and energy infrastructure.”