Advocates for universal broadband access and internet affordability are lauding Pres. Biden’s $2-trillion American Jobs Plan.
They praise the plan for recognizing the importance of Internet access, pointing out that broadband has become as necessary as electricity. The push for more access to affordable Internet comes as families across the United States are having to adjust to remote work and learning due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.
On Mar. 31, the Biden Administration announced the American Jobs Plan, jobs, infrastructure, and green energy proposal meant to reshape the U.S. economy. In his announcement, Biden said the plan would create “the most resilient, innovative economy in the world,” through multiple projects intended to upgrade the nation’s infrastructure and create millions of jobs.
“This is not a plan that tinkers around the edges. It is a once-in-a-generation investment in America, unlike anything we’ve done since we built the Interstate Highway System and the Space Race,” in the 1950s and ’60s, said Biden.
Though the proposal is widely referenced as an infrastructure plan, funding would go beyond traditional federal government spending on bridges and roads, public transit, clean energy, and water systems to include unprecedented levels of investment in electric vehicles, affordable housing, community colleges, and childcare facilities.
The plan also includes large investments in innovation, including $100 billion in workforce development programs for underserved communities and $400 billion for home or community-based care for the elderly and people with disabilities.
The plan would be funded by tax increases on corporations, including raising the main corporate tax rate to 28%. The current tax rate, which was lowered in the Trump tax cuts of 2017, is 21 %.
Biden’s proposal says that these corporate tax changes would raise the estimated $2 trillion needed over 15 years to fund the initiative.
One of the key provisions of the infrastructure plan is $100 billion going toward high-speed broadband. The goal is to give all Americans access to affordable, reliable high-speed Internet by promoting competition and lowering prices, as well as building out high-speed broadband connections to Americans in rural and low-income areas who don’t have broadband.
In addition to access, Biden said access to the Internet would become more affordable.
“When I say affordable, I mean it. Americans pay too much,” Biden said.
As the push to fund universal broadband works its way through Congress, efforts to widen broadband access in California continue.
The day before the announcement of Biden’s infrastructure plan, Mar. 30, a coalition of organizations including the California Hospital Association, California School Boards Association, California State Association of Counties and Rural County Representatives of California called on Gov. Gavin Newsom to designate $8 million in funding for high speed 100 Mbps broadband infrastructure.
The proposal stated figures based on a California Public Utilities Commission December 2020 broadband cost report.
“By investing in broadband, we are investing in our communities, our economy, and the future of our state. We can no longer afford inaction and (we are) proud to join this broad coalition in requesting a one-time investment that is a critical start to building the infrastructure needed to serve all Californians,” said Micah Weinberg, CEO of the advocacy organization California Forward Action Fund.