President Biden’s American Jobs Plan is something FDR could be proud of, the type of New Deal-era government program that got a post-Great Depression United States back on track.
In announcing the plan, Biden called it a “once in a generation investment in America” that will improve our country’s aging infrastructure while creating jobs and strengthening our national and local economies.
For years I have been calling for infrastructure improvements in my home state of Illinois, knowing that this strong foundation is the engine that propels our economy forward. In 2021, infrastructure is more than roads, bridges, and pipes. It’s the airports, rail systems, and ports that help us (and our goods) get where we need them to go. It’s the Internet that connects us to the entire world and the power grid that makes it all possible.
The American Jobs Plan tackles every aspect of our nation’s critical infrastructure: from the roads, ports, and railways that deliver our goods, to the water pipes, electric grids, and broadband lines that deliver our utilities.
Close to my heart, the plan will help ensure clean, safe drinking water in communities across the United States. Because of my role on the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago – a unit of local government tasked with protecting our water environment – I’ve seen firsthand what happens when our water infrastructure isn’t maintained: pipes break and flood homes and businesses, people get sick from contaminated water and the overall quality of our water source decreases.
Recognizing that clean water is a right – no matter your zip code – the Biden plan commits to replacing 100 percent of the country’s lead pipes and improving the water infrastructure that provides us with clean drinking water and removes waste and stormwater.
Also of significance: the plan calls on Congress to invest $35 billion to address the climate crisis and make the U.S. a global leader in responding to it. Biden has already reversed the embarrassing decision made by President Trump to remove the U.S. from the Paris climate accord and has re-committed the country to providing climate aid to poorer nations, but this is a new, forward-looking step that will help put us on the offense in the fight against climate change.
The American Jobs Plan is a substantial investment in our country, not only in terms of scope, but in terms of dollars. While the price tag on this infrastructure bill may seem high, the cost of doing nothing would be even higher. We cannot forget that we are still in a severe economic downturn as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and that millions of Americans are out of work or facing reduced hours.
Congress should pass the American Jobs Plan because it will help put those people back to work and create good jobs that will not only help build and sustain our economy but build our country back better.
Mariyana Spyropoulos is a member of the MWRD Board of Commissioners and an advocate for transparency in good government, fiscal responsibility and environmental stewardship.