Biden's Call for $2 Trillion Infrastructure Package Met with Skepticism

4/6/2021

 

Three major construction associations — AGC, ABC and NAHB — have responded to President Joe Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure investment plan. The statements generally agree that investments are needed and welcome. But the associations worry that the efforts will be “undermined by misguided labor and tax proposals.” Here are the full statements: 

AGC

The chief executive officer of the Associated General Contractors of America, Stephen E. Sandherr, issued the following statement in reaction to the unveiling today of President Biden’s new infrastructure proposal as well as related plans to raise taxes and impose new regulatory and labor requirements on employers: 

“We greet the President’s new infrastructure proposal with mixed emotions. On one hand, the President is right to focus on rebuilding a broad range of aging and overburdened infrastructure and modernizing buildings. These investments will create a significant number of new construction career opportunities that traditionally pay well above jobs in other industries. Unfortunately, the President seeks to saddle these new investments with a host of labor and regulatory measures that will hurt workers and offset many of the economic benefits of these new infrastructure investments. 

“For example, by seeking to couple his new infrastructure proposal with the dangerous PRO Act, the President is signaling that infrastructure investments must come at the expense of labor harmony and economic certainty. That is because the PRO Act will give organized labor unprecedented abilities to disrupt all manner of economic activities, at any time, to meet their broader objectives. His justification for seeking to impose the labor measures in this proposal, that construction workers have been traditionally underpaid, is clearly wrong as even a cursory check of data tracked by the Bureau of Labor Statistics would have confirmed. 

“The President’s proposal to finance the new investments primarily via an increase in the corporate tax rate will likely undermine many of its economic benefits. That is because these new tax hikes will limit the ability of many employers to invest in capital improvement that will provide additional career opportunities for construction workers. The tax hikes will also undermine firms’ ability to invest in new equipment and technology and will limit America’s global competitiveness. 

“The most important aspect of the President’s proposal is that it once again serves as a reminder that we need to boost investments in our infrastructure. Our expectation is this proposal will prompt an important debate about the best way to make, and fund, those investments in a way that fully supports economic growth. We look forward to working with members of Congress in both parties to craft a bipartisan infrastructure proposal that will do as much to boost economic growth as it does to improve civil works and make our structures more efficient.” 

ABC

Associated Builders and Contractors President and CEO Michael Bellaman today issued the following statement responding to President Biden’s announcement of a multitrillion-dollar infrastructure plan: 

“Our nation is in strong bipartisan agreement that America’s crumbling roads, bridges, schools and water, energy and transportation systems are in desperate need of modernization in order to accelerate our strong economic comeback and keep our country competitive in a global economy. ABC continues to advocate for any plan to modernize our nation’s infrastructure to include policies to reduce costly and ineffective regulations, ensure fair and open competition, address the construction industry’s skilled worker shortage, embrace new technology, and pursue value-adding, public-private partnerships that can help bring critical construction projects to market in a more economical and efficient manner. Unfortunately, much of the Biden plan ignores ABC’s infrastructure policy recommendations, while proposing tax increases on job-creating construction firms that are still recovering from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“While policy details are still emerging and the infrastructure plan will need to go through Congress, it is disappointing to see the Biden administration support the use of divisive government-mandated project labor agreement schemes on taxpayer-funded construction projects. Government-mandated PLAs exclude more than 87% of the U.S. construction workforce from rebuilding their communities and benefitting from well-paying middle-class jobs created by taxpayer investments in infrastructure. It also means taxpayers will spend 20% more per mandated PLA project, which results in fewer infrastructure improvements and less job creation to help America rebound from the pandemic’s economic devastation. Coupled with a call for Congress to pass the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, it is clear the Biden administration’s infrastructure plan is designed to help powerful donors and special interests instead of all Americans. 

“It is difficult to support an infrastructure plan that excludes the 87% of the workforce that chooses not to join a union and promotes the PRO Act, which eliminates workers’ freedom to choose how to pursue their career dreams, places their personal information security at risk and legalizes intimidation and secondary boycotting against a company’s supply chain and customers. 

“We encourage President Biden to work with Congress and stakeholders to pursue a bipartisan path forward that would efficiently and effectively modernize our infrastructure, drive economic growth, welcome every construction professional and deliver value to all taxpayers. ABC will continue to work with Congress and the Biden administration to improve the infrastructure plan.”  

NAHB

“NAHB commends President Biden for proposing a much-needed transportation and infrastructure plan for our nation that notes the important role that housing contributes to building strong communities,” said NAHB Chairman Chuck Fowke in part of a larger overview. “With the nation facing a housing affordability crisis, the plan recognizes the urgent need to build more affordable housing and retrofit existing homes to increase energy efficiency. At the same time, the proposal includes troubling labor provisions and tax provisions to pay for the plan.”