Few were surprised that President Joe Biden’s newly unveiled $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan devotes a large chunk of money — $621 billion — to transportation-related projects. But his decision to include $400 billion in spending on care for the aging and disabled, among other components, raised more than a couple of eyebrows.
Count Bank of America
analysts among those somewhat surprised by the proposal’s wide-ranging approach.
“President Biden’s proposed infrastructure spending encompassed a broad definition of spending plans, beyond the traditional road and bridges supplied by our building materials and long steel coverage. While any stimulus that supports the economy can be positive for the group, we think the amount slated for roads and highways looked disappointing relative to expectations,” the analysts said in a note.
The non-roads-and-bridges spending in Biden’s “American Jobs Plan” includes $25 billion to “help upgrade child-care facilities and increase the supply of child care” and $300 billion to “retool and revitalize American manufacturers and small businesses.”
And then there’s the sizable amount of money proposed to go toward what the White House describes as “the infrastructure of our care economy.”
Biden is “calling on Congress to put $400 billion toward expanding access to quality, affordable home- or community-based care for aging relatives and people with disabilities,” the White House said Wednesday in its “fact sheet” on the president’s plan.
“These investments will help hundreds of thousands of Americans finally obtain the long-term services and support they need, while creating new jobs and offering caregiving workers a long-overdue raise, stronger benefits and an opportunity to organize or join a union and collectively bargain.”
“$400 billion is an incredible and ambitious start,” said Ruth Katz, senior vice president of public policy and advocacy at LeadingAge, an association representing nonprofit and for-profit providers of services for the aging.
Aging services are “absolutely central to infrastructure,” she added, citing figures from the United Nations World Population Prospects report that estimates that one in four Americans will be over 65 by 2050.
“We need aging services going forward. We need them now and we need them to be organized and affordable going forward,” Katz told reporters on Thursday. “They are part of the infrastructure of the United States of America.”
Her group released “Blueprint for a Better Aging Infrastructure” on Thursday as part of its lobbying for funding.
Meanwhile, Republican lawmakers have been criticizing the sweeping nature of Biden’s infrastructure plan.
“Our nation could use a serious, targeted infrastructure plan,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Republican, in a statement. “This plan is not about rebuilding America’s backbone.”
The S&P 500
finished above the 4,000 milestone for the first time Thursday as stocks
kicked off April with a rally, building on first-quarter gains a day after Biden unveiled his infrastructure proposal.