Discover more from Letters from an American
June 26, 2023
Today the Biden administration launched its “Investing in America” tour with the announcement of a $40 billion investment to make sure everyone in the United States has access to affordable, reliable high-speed internet by the end of the decade. Comparing the effort to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Rural Electrification Act during the New Deal, the White House noted today that 8.5 million households and small businesses live in areas without the infrastructure for high-speed internet, while millions more have limited or unreliable options (like me!). High-speed internet is no longer a luxury, the administration points out; it is not possible to participate equally in jobs, school, or healthcare, or to stay connected to family and friends without it (they didn’t mention shopping, but that’s an issue, now, too).
The Rural Electrification Act, which connected almost all Americans to the electrical grid, was the federal government’s demonstration that all Americans should move together into the modern world. In the 1930s that meant access to the infrastructure that could power refrigerators, radios, and, for farmers, technologies like milking machines. It also meant jobs, and lots of them, for the people running the wires and installing new outlets and fixtures in homes across the country.
The new internet investment mirrors that effort. It will provide more than $107 million to every state, with the top ten allocations going to Alabama, California, Georgia, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Washington. It will also support both service jobs and manufacturing jobs, since the materials for the project will come from the United States.
For the next three weeks, President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, members of the cabinet, and other senior administration officials will cross the country to talk about Biden’s economic agenda. On Wednesday, President Biden will be in Chicago to talk about “Bidenomics,” his plan to boost the middle class by investing directly in measures that will rebuild it, a vision that echoes FDR rather than the modern Republicans, who argue that cutting taxes will enable investors to amass wealth that they will then reinvest in the economy.
Bidenomics has strong numbers behind it. The U.S. has enjoyed the strongest post-pandemic recovery of any other major economy, with the highest level of growth and the lowest inflation. In early 2021 the Congressional Budget Office projected that it would take until 2026 for unemployment to fall below 4%, a number the U.S. actually achieved in 2021. The economy has added more than 13 million jobs since Biden took office, including almost 800,000 manufacturing jobs.
And, Biden’s people argue, the American people like this agenda. Polling from late last year says that 76% of voters like the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law rebuilding our roads and bridges, and 72% of voters support the CHIPS and Science Act to strengthen supply chains and promote domestic manufacture of semiconductors.
Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo said of the internet investment today: “Whether it’s connecting people to the digital economy, manufacturing fiber-optic cable in America, or creating good paying jobs building Internet infrastructure in the states, the investments we’re announcing will increase our competitiveness and spur economic growth across the country for years to come.”
President Biden has been very clear that the U.S. and its allies had nothing to do with Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin’s rebellion against Russian military leaders over the weekend, “[W]e had to make sure we gave Putin no excuse — let me emphasize, we gave Putin no excuse — to blame this on the West, to blame this on NATO,” he said. “We made clear that we were not involved. We had nothing to do with it. This was part of a struggle within the Russian system.”
While what, exactly, is going on in Russia remains unclear, there is no doubt that the events of the weekend have left Russian president Vladimir Putin badly weakened.
And then, as if in another timeline, CNN tonight published the audiotape of former president Trump talking in July 2021 about a classified document concerning Iran with a writer and others working on a biography of Trump’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows who did not have security clearances. In it, Trump says he cannot declassify the document since he is no longer president– undercutting his argument that he could declassify anything he wished at any time— and made it clear he knew he should not be showing the document to the people in the room, telling them it was “off the record” and “highly confidential.”
Journalist Garrett Graff, who wrote a history of President Richard Nixon’s Watergate scandal, the one that led Nixon to resign under threat of impeachment and conviction, listened to the tape and tweeted: “Speaking as a Watergate historian, there’s nowhere on thousands of hours of Nixon tapes where Nixon makes any comment as clear, as clearly illegal, and as clearly self-aware as this Trump tape.”