President Joe Biden is touting his $1 trillion infrastructure plan as an ultimate solution to the nation’s inflation and supply chain woes – if Americans have the patience to wait for construction to begin
The president visited the Port of Baltimore last week at the start of a national tour to showcase his signature legislation that Congress approved and he intends to sign on Monday. He announced that the spending would improve the transportation of products and supplies from abroad and the US to help lower prices, reduce shortages, and add union jobs.
The message is becoming more important as the government reported on Wednesday that consumer prices in October rose 6.2% from a year earlier. Inflation has accelerated rather than eased as the economy reopened after the coronavirus pandemic, posing a major challenge for Biden, whose administration has repeatedly said the price hike was temporary. During remarks on the port, he acknowledged that consumer prices remain “very high”.
“Everything from a gallon of gas to a loaf of bread costs more,” he said. “We are still facing challenges and we have to deal with them … we have to face them head-on.”
Higher prices have eaten into wages and turned public sentiment on the economy against Biden in the polls. One of the barriers to bucking inflation has been a backlog of ports with ships waiting to dock at major transit hubs, leading to shortages and leaving some store shelves ahead of the holiday shopping season.
“A lot of people worry about the economy and we all know why,” Biden said.
He offered his infrastructure plan as the solution, although it will take time to unfold. Better infrastructure – be it roads, bridges, ports or whatever – will provide greater capacity and flexibility for the supply chain. Ships will have greater capacity to unload and carry cargo, which in turn will reduce price pressures and shortages.
Biden said spending on infrastructure would create jobs at $45 an hour, about 50% more than the current national average. It will create a wealth of jobs to fix old pipes, bridges and roads, and promote clean energy and cyber security. And most will not require a college degree.
“This is a once in a generation investment,” he said.
The president pointed to the port of Baltimore as a blueprint for how to ease shipping barriers holding back economic recovery. The facility is adding container cranes as well as a 50-foot berth where ships can be unloaded. The Port of Baltimore is also benefiting from a grant to upgrade the Howard Street Tunnel, a brick-lined underpass for trains that opened in 1895. The tunnel will be expanded so that shipping containers can be double-stacked on railcars, making it easier to move goods out. of port.
The president, who consulted with the CEOs of Walmart, Target, FedEx and UPS on Tuesday, stressed that these investments are part of a national effort to address supply chain bottlenecks that could aid broader growth.
His administration also announced new investments to ease congestion at the Port of Savannah in Georgia, nearly a month after the administration helped broker a deal to operate nonstop to the Port of Los Angeles.
The president is trying to explain how port congestion shows how strong the economic rebound from the pandemic is. A forecast by the National Retail Federation suggests record levels of imports this year.
The inflation phenomenon is also global in nature, with Germany and China reporting higher levels recently.
The president presented his side on Wednesday in a city of nearly 600,000 people who support him. Nearly 90% of voters in Baltimore supported Biden in last year’s election. The president also stayed in town for the CNN Town Hall on October 21.
Baltimore embodies the complexities of an increasingly diverse America in a time of hot national politics.
Many Americans have watched the TV version of the city’s poverty, crime, political corruption and empty row houses on shows like HBO’s “The Wire.” The unrest following the death of Freddie Gray from injuries in a police van in 2015 helped inspire a national movement for the rights and dignity of life for black Americans.
But there are also deep pockets of wealth and prosperity in Baltimore, a microcosm of widening inequality facing the nation. The Guilford neighborhood has mansions, elite private schools, renowned restaurants and the reputation of Johns Hopkins University.
As president, Donald Trump repeatedly slammed the majority Black city on Twitter, calling it “the worst in the nation.” But while Trump despises Baltimore, Biden sees a test case for his agenda that goes beyond ports. Their child tax credits are sending thousands of dollars to families in a city where the child poverty rate is north of 30%. Work has begun to renovate and modernize historic Penn Station, possibly improving rail transportation throughout the Northeast.