March 25, 2021 4:30 PM, EDT

Infrastructure Plan Coming March 31, Biden Says

President Joe Biden holds his first press conference President Joe Biden holds his first press conference March 25. (Oliver Contreras/Sipa via Bloomberg News)

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President Joe Biden said he will unveil his long-term economic rejuvenation plan next week, promising a new “paradigm” for the middle class and a major ramp-up in investment and infrastructure spending that will strengthen the U.S. position against China. (Update, March 31: Read details on released plan)

“I want to change the paradigm — we start to reward work, not just wealth,” Biden said March 25 in his first press conference since taking office. He alluded to expanded support for health care and tax changes to address a system that currently contributes to “feathering the nest of the wealthiest Americans.”

The administration included a major expansion of the earned income tax credit for lower-income workers in the $1.9 trillion pandemic-relief plan Biden signed this month, along with an increase in the child tax credit. Democratic lawmakers are pushing for permanent extensions of those measures, while White House aides are working on tax hikes for companies and the richest Americans to help pay for the elements that will make up the “Build Back Better” program.

Biden said he would be unveiling that program during a visit to Pittsburgh, scheduled for March 31.

The president also cited a raft of data that described a dire state of American infrastructure, from the poor condition of highways to endemic delays on passenger flights to millions of homes that still have lead piping in their water supply. While America allowed its transportation and other systems to decay, China has been investing at a pace more than three times that of the U.S., Biden said.

The administration is considering proposing as much as $3 trillion worth of measures in the long-term economic program, and the president’s top aides have spent the past several days weighing how to advance the plan in the face of staunch Republican opposition.

Biden highlighted that he was able to win passage of his $1.9 trillion relief plan this month without Republican support, to the surprise of many observers. And he claimed support among GOP voters, if not from the opposition party’s lawmakers.

While infrastructure has long been considered a bipartisan issue, Republicans balked at headlines this week that the proposal could cost trillions of dollars, and include a broader range of issues than they anticipated.

“I am defining infrastructure in my own mind as highways and broadband and wastewater,” said Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia. “So, the scope of what I’m hearing is much greater than what I envisioned of infrastructure.”

“Hopefully we can continue this conversation, but it’s going way beyond the scope of what I thought an infrastructure package would be creating jobs,” Capito added.

— With assistance from Erik Wasson, Saleha Mohsin and Keith Laing.

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