By Emily Hoffman
Joe Biden has a $700 billion plan to restore American manufacturing jobs that guarantees a future made in America by American workers. His plan promises to create at least 5 million new high-skill, union-eligible jobs to grow the middle class. Biden intends to accomplish this through a $400 billion procurement investment combined with a push toward more clean energy and infrastructure funding.
If any of this sounds familiar, it’s probably because Biden touted the same job creating boost and “buy American” requirements in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) stimulus package in February 2009. While empirical studies over time have shown that the costly stimulus package provided some help, we find ourselves in need again just over a decade later. Another classic example of big spending with little results.
More shovel-ready infrastructure spending would only be another temporary fix that relies heavily on already established programs to efficiently disburse funds. Government-directed infrastructure spending goes most often to inefficient projects favored by politicians. How will more of the same encourage innovation and foster growth in manufacturing? One of the biggest problems facing the manufacturing sector is a skills gap and lack of qualified workers, which remains unaddressed by Biden’s plan.
And what about the jobs that will be lost with the elimination of coal and fossil fuel production? How will working-class families with little to nothing saved support themselves during the transition to clean energy? By supporting only green solutions, Biden’s plan overlooks some of our most pressing infrastructure needs around privately built oil and gas pipelines. No one wants to pay extra at the pump when it becomes more expensive and less efficient to transport oil from wells and refineries to consumers.
Furthermore, Biden’s commitment to strengthen worker’s ability to organize by requiring union eligibility and collective bargaining abilities at companies which receive procurement contracts seems like an attempt to prop up labor unions who lost the right to collect fair-share fees from non-members under the 2018 Janus decision.
The new plan, just like the old one, misses the mark when it comes assisting the working-class families Biden claims to care about most. If the Obama era stimulus package was so successful, why the need for a duplication? Working-class American families cannot afford another lengthy and drawn-out recovery.