President Joe Biden overstated the expected employment gains Tuesday in making his pitch for a bipartisan infrastructure proposal that he said would create “millions” of new jobs, while in La Crosse, Wisconsin, where he toured the Municipal Transit Utility and touted his spending packages. The millions of new jobs might or might not have resulted from his initial plan, but there’s a smaller one on the table now.
Biden said Tuesday, “After months of careful negotiation, of listening, of compromising together, a bipartisan group of senators got together and they forged an agreement to move forward on the key priorities of my American Jobs Plan. As a result, this is a generational investment, a generational investment to modernize our infrastructure, creating millions of good paying jobs. And that’s not coming from me, it’s coming from Wall Street.”
But according to Wall Street, the bipartisan proposal is not forecast to create “millions” of new jobs, but only a fraction of that. That plan would provide $579 billion in new infrastructure spending and create new jobs by fixing and updating the nation’s crumbling roads, bridges and ports, expanding public transit and building half a million electric charging stations. But it is significantly scaled back from Biden’s initial proposal for $2.3 trillion in new spending, which Moody’s Analytics estimated would create roughly 2.6 million jobs over the next decade.
Peter Williams, an analyst at investment bank Evercore ISI, estimates the bipartisan compromise package would create 450,000 to 775,000 jobs, and mostly not until 2025-2026 because infrastructure projects can take years to win approval. He projects the package would increase the economy’s total output 1% in those years.
But that deal is still somewhat in peril. Republicans balked when Biden, hours after he emerged from the White House, his arm around a GOP senator, to announce the framework, indicated to reporters that he would not sign the law unless Congress also sent him a bigger, bolder spending package to fund free community college, child care and other domestic initiatives.
Biden on Saturday walked back that implied threat, and Republicans involved in the negotiations seemed appeased. Still, Capitol Hill Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell R-KY), are skeptical, demanding a commitment from the White House not to “link ” the two bills.
The president said he will keep making the case for the two plans “until this jo is done, until our human infrastructure needs are met.”
While Biden and congressional Democrats are aiming to pass the remainder of the president’s proposal in separate legislation, that is meeting Republican resistance and is far from certain. Nor is what Biden said Tuesday when he asserted the creation of “millions’ of jobs just from the bipartisan pact.
Yet Biden’s forward-looking speech in La Crosse Belied the perilous path ahead for the bipartisan deal in Congress, where it is still just a framework of a plan on paper and has yet to be written as legislation. Whether Biden believes it or not, there is still a long way to go to get his legislation approved and passed.