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Thread: Bidenís plan key to US competition with China

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    Bidenís plan key to US competition with China

    -- From today's paper opinion page.... I thought it was good!


    Anyone who has visited China in the past decade knows why President Joe Biden is pushing so hard to overhaul U.S. infrastructure.
    ďIf we donít get moving, they are going to eat our lunch,Ē Biden rightly recently warned a bipartisan group of U.S. senators ó while pitching his $2 trillion proposal to upgrade transport, grids, water systems, broadband internet coverage and basic research.
    The Chinese leadership has been massively investing for decades in roads, high-speed rail, airports, internet connectivity, and basic research in critical technologies, while the United States rested on its laurels. The comparison isnít pretty.
    It demonstrates to Beijing what Chinese leaders are already convinced of ó that Chinaís authoritarian regime is destined to surpass a declining America economically and technologically.
    So Bidenís massive infrastructure plan is as critical for U.S. foreign policy as it is for the home front. Which is another reason why the knee-jerk trashing of Bidenís plan by GOP legislators ó without offering a serious alternative ó is inexcusably blind.
    I have watched the results of a Chinese leadership determined to build up the countryís infrastructure since my first trip to the country in 1986, and the results are stunning. Shanghai that year was a city of bicycles and hardly any cars. Pudong was then an empty marsh. Now, it is the economic heart of the city, with a forest of skyscrapers that look like New York and Chicago combined.
    Visitors can now arrive to Shanghai on a maglev train from a gleaming new Pudong airport. Or travelers can take the bullet train from Beijing to Shanghai which takes 4 hours and 18 minutes to cover approximately 748 miles, part of Chinaís 23,550 mile network of high speed rail. Of course, Beijingís authoritarian system runs on central government five-year plans, which risk overbuilding, waste, and rights violations. But the point is that the central government plans strategically, and achieved an infrastructure backbone that propelled the countryís stunning growth.
    The United States, on the other hand, where much infrastructure depends on complex agreements between local, state and federal officials, has built one new airport ó Denver ó since the 1990s. America welcomes international visitors to NYC at the disgraceful mess of John F. Kennedy Airport and travelers then have no easy, direct rail transport to the city.
    No wonder the American
    Society of Civil Engineers, in a 2017 report, ranked the nationís infrastructure an average D+. Think of that electrical grid in Texas that collapsed in cold weather in February.
    That is before you even get to the comparison between China and the U.S. on broadband internet technology, where China has nearly the whole country covered, while more than one-third of Americans in rural areas still lack high-speed access. This is something Bidenís plan will also address.
    And the most dangerous area of all is the U.S. lag in basic research and development. This is the research that explores the new 21st technologies, which can give countries the economic and military lead in the future. For example, both the Trump and Biden administrations have banned the Chinese company Huawei from exporting hardware that enables 5G, the next high-speed generation of internet. But the United States has no equivalent company to Huawei.
    From 1995 through 2018, Chinese research and development from public and private sources increased by over 15% a year on average, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Meantime, U.S. federal funding steadily fell.
    The result: In 2018, Chinese research and development reached $463 billion, only $89 billion behind the United States, and the gap is closing. Bidenís plan wants to keep and expand the U.S. lead. How can the GOP oppose this idea?
    Plenty of the details of Bidenís huge plan can be debated. But the bottom line is that the U.S.ís crumbling infrastructure ó ranked 13 in the world ó undermines Americaís future economic prospects. And it convinces China and Russia that U.S. power is on the wane.
    This is a critical historical moment, when the world is asking whether democracies can still deliver for their people, or whether their governments can function as well as autocracies. This is a moment when a national infrastructure strategy, and full funding, are needed to keep America strong.
    Rubin writes for the Philadelphia Inquirer: trubin@phillynews.com.

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    Simpleton Alan's Avatar
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    So am I reading this correctly? Is this author implying that we need a strong autocracy such as China's, and the only thing keeping our current Democratic Republic from devolving to a point where that goal can be achieved is the GOP? I'm thinking that somehow I already knew that.
    "Things should be made as simple as possible, but not one bit simpler." ~ Albert Einstein

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    Senior Member beckyliz's Avatar
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    I hope Biden gets his plan through Congress. My first thought was it reminded me of Eisenhower's interstate system in the 1950's. It helped create a robust economy - now we need to step it up and work together to bring the USA into the 21st Century. We will soon be a 3rd World country if we don't step it up.
    "Do not accumulate for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and thieves break in and steal. But accumulate for yourselves treasure in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, your heart is also." Jesus

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alan View Post
    So am I reading this correctly? Is this author implying that we need a strong autocracy such as China's, and the only thing keeping our current Democratic Republic from devolving to a point where that goal can be achieved is the GOP? I'm thinking that somehow I already knew that.
    Authoritarian envy isnít all that rare in the arena of opinion. I remember Tom Friedman famously wishing to be ďChina for a dayĒ to impose the decisions that seemed self-evidently necessary to Tom Friedman.

    Itís no use having a template for a fairer or more efficient society if retrograde elements are reluctant to have it stamped on them. I could understand how a wannabe elite might wistfully look to the tools available to dictators.

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    The whole point is how our infrastructure needs to be updated. Look what happened a few years in Minneapolis.... a bridge completely collapsed because it was so dilapidaded. The US keeps putting off what needs to be done.

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    Senior Member iris lilies's Avatar
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    Gosh, haven’t we been seeing huge monies coming from DC about infrastructure from the last decade?

    You can argue about how the “whole point “is a good one and I don’t think you’ll have any arguments against you, But how do we pay for this? Sincerely tell me is it OK with you to go into further debt? I just don’t understand when the debt stops.

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    Senior Member Teacher Terry's Avatar
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    My son mentioned recently how little money was going to infrastructure in that bill compared to the total spending.

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    Senior Member iris lilies's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Teacher Terry View Post
    My son mentioned recently how little money was going to infrastructure in that bill compared to the total spending.
    DH talked about that today, too...Something like 5%…? It wasn’t much.

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    Quote Originally Posted by iris lilies View Post
    Gosh, haven’t we been seeing huge monies coming from DC about infrastructure from the last decade?

    You can argue about how the “whole point “is a good one and I don’t think you’ll have any arguments against you, But how do we pay for this? Sincerely tell me is it OK with you to go into further debt? I just don’t understand when the debt stops.
    What huge monies have we seen from DC for infrastructure?

    How did we pay for the tax cut for rich people and corporations? The hole in the budget for that was about the same as what is currently being proposed.

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    Senior Member jp1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Teacher Terry View Post
    My son mentioned recently how little money was going to infrastructure in that bill compared to the total spending.
    Quote Originally Posted by iris lilies View Post
    DH talked about that today, too...Something like 5%…? It wasn’t much.
    I suppose one can debate the definition of infrastructure. To be sure, home healthcare aids, while probably money well spent if it reduces medicaid spending on congregate care facilities by keeping seniors in their homes longer, is not something I would call infrastructure, and that is around 20% of the bill. And there are other relatively small parts of the plan that don't strike me as infrastructure, but the majority of the bill seems to fit the definition of infrastructure (at least to me). $621 billion for transportation improvements, another $650 billion for improving homes and public facilities to be more efficient including $100B for high speed broadband, $100B for school buildings, $111B for water infrastructure, $100B for electric grid improvements. That all seems like infrastructure to me.

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