BOSTON (CBS) – What do you do for an encore after passing a massive pandemic recovery bill?
For President Biden, the answer is to prioritize a comparably huge plan to “rebuild the infrastructure, both physical and technological infrastructure of this so that we can compete and create significant numbers of really good paying jobs.”READ MORE: Mayor Janey Promises Change After Scandal Over Retired Boston Police Officer
So on Wednesday, Biden will unveil the details of part one of a two-part, far-reaching $3 trillion infrastructure bill that in some ways may be more momentous – and politically difficult – than the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Act.
The bill he’s rolling out at an event in Pittsburgh will focus on upgrading transportation infrastructure including bridges and roads, railroads and ports; expanding wind-farms and other clean-energy development as a way of fighting climate change; and major spending on housing and manufacturing. And fresh polling suggests parts of it may be even more popular than the well-received pandemic recovery and stimulus measure approved earlier this month.
In a national Yahoo News/YouGov survey, a whopping 70% favor Biden’s call for investing in core infrastructure such as roads, bridges, and rail lines. Fifty-nine percent support expanding broadband access for mostly rural areas that struggle to get and stay online. And 58% back clean energy spending.
For Massachusetts, passage could mean the realization of long-discussed fast rail service from Springfield to Boston, the end of internet dead spots in the Berkshires, and a boost for long-planned offshore wind farms.READ MORE: 'Making Good Progress': Doctors Believe Massachusetts Can Reach Herd Immunity In A Couple Months
But there’s a problem.
“The Trojan Horse will be called infrastructure, but inside the Trojan Horse will be all the tax increases,” says Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. It’s not exactly hidden – candidate Biden specified a range of tax hikes he’d pursue to pay for things like this, including hiking the top individual income tax rate from 37% to 39.6% and taxing the capital gains of millionaires at higher rates, along with a 33% increase in the corporate tax rate.
Even though the president insists these new taxes will hit only wealthy corporations and individuals, that new poll shows barely a third of the public supports spending as much as it takes to improve infrastructure, with more preferring to spend less or spend nothing at all when the two categories are combined.
Could that ambivalence sink Biden’s infrastructure boat? Maybe. But take note of the clever way the White House marshaled public testimonials for the American Rescue Act from state and city GOP officeholders who stood to benefit from the bill’s infusion of federal aid, allowing Biden to cite “bipartisan support” for a measure that didn’t draw a single Republican vote in Congress.
Can he do it again here? Do red states with lots of rural turf crave help with expanded broadband? Are red state drivers concerned about rising gas prices? Do red state homeowners and businesspeople worry about the increasing threat of property- and wealth-destroying weather events?MORE NEWS: 'We Just Need More People': Restaurant Owners Struggling To Find Staff As Former Employees Collect Unemployment
Biden thinks the answer is yes. We’re about to find out if he’s right.