President Biden’s infrastructure plan — some history and context

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On this week’s Talking Michigan Transportation, a conversation with Andy Doctoroff about his op-ed published in the Detroit Free Press examining President Biden’s American Jobs Plan in the context of historic investments in U.S. infrastructure.

Doctoroff, who has made previous appearances on the podcast in his capacity as the governor’s office’s point person on work to build the Gordie Howe International Bridge, teaches a class he developed on infrastructure at the University of Michigan Law School. He talks about how his research for the class informed his column, which recounts the early resistance in our nation’s capitol to central government investments in “internal improvements” and explains the evolution over time in thinking.

Acknowledging the challenges President Biden faces, Doctoroff writes: “Never has a Congress as closely divided as this one is, in a country so polarized, passed a major piece of infrastructure legislation. … Congressional enactment of the Biden administration’s American Jobs Plan would, in one unprecedented stroke, reverse the United States’ centuries-long and rarely interrupted history of underfunding public works.”

Other references:

— The 2021 “report card” issued by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

— Forbes commentary on President Lincoln’s inspiration for President Biden on an infrastructure plan.

— A 2019 report from the U.S. House Committee on the Budget was based on hearings with several experts concluding the U.S. spends far too little on infrastructure.

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