Editorials, Opinion

W.Va. needs American Jobs Plan

President Biden’s infrastructure plan is bold and sweeping — with the price tag to match at a little over $2 trillion. But there’s a lot in there that will benefit the whole country — and West Virginia — that would make it worth the cost.

The American Jobs Plan includes $100 billion for high-speed broadband access. We know broadband expansion is something the Mountain State desperately needs. The pandemic really brought home just how essential internet access is to modern life — and how easily West Virginians can fall behind if they can’t get it. Nearly every politician running for office last year campaigned on expanded broadband, and now the federal government has offered to help.

There’s $115 billion in there for fixing up roads and bridges. And West Virginia has a ton of roads and bridges in need of repair. “Best” Virginia consistently makes the Top 10 Worst Roads across a variety of sources. According to Business Insider, 31% of our roads are in poor condition and 18% of bridges are “structurally deficient.” USA Today says the $115 billion will be allocated based on roads and bridges “most in need of repair.” Considering how awful our roads are, some of that money would surely be coming our way.

The other big piece of Biden’s plan is what some call “human infrastructure” or home and community care. This includes funding for things like in-home elder care and assistance for people with disabilities, but it also includes funding for school updates and child care facilities, as well as VA hospitals. Given that, according to census data, 20% of West Virginia’s population is over the age of 65 and another 20% is under the age of 18; 14% of West Virginians under 65 have a disability; and we have over 130,000 veterans. The “human infrastructure” part of Biden’s plan would do amazing things for our state.

All of that is just a fraction of what’s in the American Jobs Plan (so named because everything in it either supports jobs that already exist or creates new jobs to accomplish all the work proposed). Politicians on both sides of the aisle like what’s in it and agree that America can and will benefit greatly from its measures.

The disagreement is over how to pay for it. Biden has proposed partially funding the bill by raising corporate taxes to 28% — the halfway mark between the pre-Trump 35% corporate tax rate and the post-2017 tax cut 21% rate.

Many Republicans have dug in their heels and said if the president and Democrats increase any taxes, they will not support the plan.

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito has already made her statement rejecting Biden’s proposal. Sen. Joe Manchin is savoring his power as a swing vote and is trying to leverage a lower corporate tax rate (25% instead of 28%). We hope both senators will look beyond the politicking and really consider all the amazing things the American Jobs Plan can do for West Virginia.

Biden’s plan has a price tag with a lot of zeros at the end, but this is an investment in our nation — and a good bit of that investment could come here to the Mountain State. Capito and Manchin need to prioritize West Virginia over Washington politics. They need to support the American Jobs Plan.

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