Biden says huge infrastructure plan needed for US to 'lead the world'

Washington (AFP) –


President Joe Biden on Wednesday cast his proposed $2 trillion infrastructure plan as a make-or-break moment for ensuring US supremacy on the world stage against a rising China.

The huge revamp of transport links and investments in modern technologies are needed "so America can lead the world as it has historically done," Biden said in a White House speech.

China wants to "own the future" and the United States is being left behind because it has stopped emphasizing government-funded infrastructure and research and development, he warned.

"America's no longer the leader of the world because we're not investing," Biden said. "When we were investing it, we were the leader in the world. I don't know why we don't get this."

Biden is pitching a plan that goes far beyond the traditional roads-and-bridges type of infrastructure to take in the likes of internet broadband, scientific research, renewable energy and clean drinking water.

No Republicans so far support the proposal, balking at the proposed increase in the corporate tax rate from 21 to 28 percent and accusing Biden of shoehorning irrelevant projects into the overall bill in order to please the left of his Democratic party.

Biden said he is "wide open" to negotiating on all aspects, including the extent of the tax hike, but said "we've got to pay for this."

Referring to the possible strategy of trying to force through the bill with only Democratic support, Biden said: "We will not be open to doing nothing. Inaction is simply not an option."

According to Biden, the stakes reach existential levels for the future of the United States, with non-democratic competitors watching to see if Washington has the political will to compete.

"We're at an inflection point -- American democracy. This is a moment where we prove whether or not democracy can deliver," he said. China and other competitors "are counting on American democracy to be too slow, too limited and too divided to keep pace."

"So much is changing. We have got to lead it," Biden said.