Biden kicks off effort to reshape US economy with $2 trillion ‘Build Back Better’ package

Biden kicks off effort to reshape US economy with $2 trillion ‘Build Back Better’ package

The first phase of Biden's "Build Back Better" programme, will be unveiled in a speech in Pittsburgh

US President Joe Biden wants $2 trillion to reengineer America’s infrastructure and expects the nation’s corporations to pay for it as he aimed at modernizing the United States' crumbling transport network, creating millions of jobs and enabling the country to "out-compete" China.

The president travels to Pittsburgh on Wednesday to unveil what would be a hard-hatted transformation of the US economy as grand in scale as the New Deal or Great Society programmes that shaped the 20th century, according to The Associated Press.

The first phase of Biden's "Build Back Better" programme, which he will unveil in a speech in Pittsburgh, will detail massive investment spread over eight years.

It plans to inject $620 billion into transport, including upgrading 20,000 miles (32,000 kilometers) of roads and highways, repairing thousands of bridges and doubling federal funding for public transit.

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The president, whom Donald Trump tried to caricature as "Sleepy Joe" and a man without strong ideas or motivation, intends to make the bold infrastructure plan one of his flagship policies.

"He views his role as laying out... a broad vision, a bold vision for how we can invest in America, American workers, our communities," White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

The investment would be partly paid for by raising corporate tax from 21 percent to 28 percent.

"The President is proposing to fundamentally reform the corporate tax code so that it incentivizes job creation and investment... and ensures that large corporations are paying their fair share," a senior administration official said ahead of the speech.

The new legislative offensive comes soon after Congress passed a nearly $2 trillion Covid-19 economic stimulus plan.

And Biden's speech is set to open a bitter battle in Congress, where the Democrats hold only a narrow majority and will face strong opposition from the Republicans.

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The coming months will test the negotiating skills of the Democratic president, a veteran of Washington politics and deal-making, to the limit, and the chances of his infrastructure plan passing into law remain uncertain.

He also aims to put corporate America on the hook for the tab, which is expected to grow to a combined $4 trillion once he rolls out the second part of his economic plan in April.

Coupled with his recently enacted $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, Biden's infrastructure initiative would give the federal government a bigger role in the US economy than it has had in generations, accounting for 20% or more of annual output.

The effort, to be announced on Wednesday at an event in Pittsburgh, sets the stage for the next partisan clash in Congress where members largely agree that capital investments are needed but are divided on the total size and inclusion of programs traditionally seen as social services. Just how to pay for them will be a fractious issue in its own right.

Biden for now is ignoring a campaign promise and sparing wealthy Americans from any tax increase. The plan would increase the corporate tax rate to 28% from 21% and change the tax code to close loopholes that allow companies to move profits overseas, according to a senior administration official.

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