Politicians have begun debating the details of President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan, saying it designates only a small fraction of money toward “real” infrastructure, according to the New York Times. They say spending to address issues like home care, electric vehicles, and water pipes should not count.
According to the article, Biden pushed back on Monday, saying the plan broadly qualified as infrastructure and included goals such as building high-speed rail lines and making federal buildings more energy efficient.
Economists largely agree that infrastructure now means more than just roads and bridges and extends to the building blocks for a modern, high-tech service economy. Even so, some economists say the Biden plan stretches the limits of what counts.
Proponents of the proposal argue that anything that helps people work and lead productive lives counts as infrastructure. This includes investments in people, like the creation of high-paying union jobs. However, those who say the definition is too expansive tend to focus on the potential payback of a given project, the NYT reports. For example, spending on provisions that help unions as policies that were not focused on bolstering the economy's potential.
"When people think about infrastructure, they're thinking about roads, bridges, ports and airports," Missouri GOP Sen. Roy Blunt said on ABC News, according to CNN. "That's a very small part of what they're calling an infrastructure package that does so much more than infrastructure."
Some progressive economists are pressuring the administration to widen the definition of infrastructure even further, and to spend more to rebuild it.
Source: The New York Times, CNN