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Commerce Secretary: Infrastructure Plan Will Boost Competitiveness

Posted on May 14, 2021

The Biden Administration’s proposed $2 trillion American Jobs Plan will make historic investments in roads, bridges, broadband internet and other infrastructure that is key to US business competitiveness, Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo told the AIM Annual Meeting today.

And while the administration is in “deep negotiations” with Congress over how to pay for the program, Secretary Raimondo made clear that businesses will have to pay their fair share for the infrastructure upgrade.

“Every single business leader I have spoken with, from the biggest companies to the smallest, have agreed that we need big investments in our infrastructure because it is good for business. Bridges, roads, airports that are crumbling are bad for business,” the former Rhode Island governor told more than 600 business leaders at the virtual AIM Annual Meeting.

“The challenge, of course is how way pay for it and the president is committed to ensuring that we do pay for it…And our proposal is an increase in the corporate tax rate.”

The administration has proposed raising the corporate levy to 28 percent, though Secretary Raimondo confirmed that President Biden is open to compromise to secure bi-partisan support of the measure in Congress.

“Those discussions are ongoing. Many members of the cabinet, including myself, are in daily discussions with the Senate, Republican and Democrat alike, to find common ground,” Secretary Raimondo said.

The plan includes $621 billion in infrastructure spending dedicated to rebuilding the nation’s roads, bridges, ports, and rail systems. It also contains $300 billion to bolster manufacturing, $213 billion for affordable housing, and a collective $380 billion for research and development, modernizing America’s electricity grid, and installing high-speed broadband around the country. The plan also includes $400 billion for home- and community-based health and elder care.

In all, the plan would spend $2 trillion over eight years – about one percent of gross domestic product over that period of time. The administration says the plan would create millions of jobs.

Secretary Raimondo said the job-training investments included in the president’s proposal will help to bridge the gap between the skills of workers who have lost jobs and the skills required in growth sectors of the economy. She pledged that these programs would be demand-driven, sector specific and tailored to the needs of employers.

She said the administration also wants to address the troubling exodus of women from the workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic, an issue that AIM has examined through its “Pink Slip” initiative.

“We have to make sure as we build back we are conscious of the fact that women, in particular, have fallen out of the workforce and we have to be there with support, with job training to make sure they can re-enter the workforce.”

Gina Raimondo was sworn in as the 40th U.S. Secretary of Commerce on March 3. The former venture capitalist served as Rhode Island governor from 2015 until this year, building a list of economic accomplishments that included reducing taxes every year, removing 8,000 pages of regulations, raising the state minimum wage to $11.50 and financing the largest infrastructure program in the state’s history.

The AIM Annual Meeting featured presentation of the 2021 Vision Award to vaccine pioneers Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca; the inaugural Lewis Latimer Award to the New Commonwealth Racial Equity and Social Justice Fund; and the John Gould Education and Workforce Training Award to Dr. Michele Dufresne and Pioneer Valley Books. Music was provided by the Boston Children’s Chorus.