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    Biden Sells Infrastructure Improvements as a Way to Counter China

    Spending on roads, broadband internet and more will help revitalize U.S. competitiveness against its top economic adversary, the president says.President Biden said the newly signed infrastructure law would help the United States counter China in the battle to dominate the 21st-century economy, as broad swaths of his agenda remained stuck in Congress.Kenny Holston for The New York TimesWASHINGTON — President Biden on Tuesday began selling his $1 trillion infrastructure law, making the case that the money would do more than rebuild roads, bridges and railways. The law, he said, would help the United States regain its competitive edge against China.“We’re about to turn things around in a big way,” Mr. Biden said in remarks at a bridge over the Pemigewasset River, in snowy New Hampshire. “For example, because of this law, next year will be the first year in 20 years that American infrastructure investment will grow faster than China’s.”The president has cast the legislation as a giant leap for the United States in its battle with China to dominate the 21st-century economy, even though it does not include the full scope of his campaign promises to pour money into research and development and provide incentives for domestic manufacturing and other initiatives.“It’s an important step, although it’s not a huge one, if one thinks about the progress China has made in building up its physical and soft infrastructure,” said Eswar S. Prasad, an economist at Cornell University who specializes in trade policy. The infrastructure law “is a good defensive measure,” he added. “But will it fundamentally alter the dynamics? Not by itself.”Even as his administration begins spending the money in the law to upgrade bridges, broadband internet, water pipes and more, broad swaths of Mr. Biden’s agenda to compete economically with the Chinese remain stuck in Congress. A bill to significantly increase federal research and development spending on advanced batteries, semiconductors and other high-tech industries — which the president was forced to drop from his initial infrastructure proposal — has cleared the Senate but not the House, though administration officials expect it to eventually pass.Mr. Biden’s additional plans to stimulate more low-emissions energy production, including hundreds of billions of dollars in tax incentives, hinge on passage of a $1.85 trillion spending bill that Democrats have yet to find consensus on. That bill also contains spending on early childhood education, child care and other support for the work force that economists say will help the United States bolster the skills and productivity of its workers.If the president can shepherd those two bills through Congress, analysts say, he could have a foundation for a U.S. industrial policy that rivals Chinese investments in manufacturing and advanced technology. If he cannot, he will still have better transportation, energy and information sectors domestically, but his efforts to counter China will be incomplete.Chinese commentators have taken notice. An editorial this month in Global Times, a popular tabloid controlled by the country’s Communist Party, called the infrastructure bill a “feeble imitation of China” and said it was “tantamount to a fairy tale” that the measure alone would revitalize U.S. competitiveness.Mr. Biden has leaned into the issue as he sells Americans on the benefits of the law. Hours before he met virtually with President Xi Jinping of China on Monday, during a signing ceremony with hundreds of attendees at the White House, Mr. Biden put the countries’ economic rivalry front and center.“I truly believe that 50 years from now,” he said, “historians are going to look back at this moment and say, ‘That’s the moment America began to win the competition of the 21st century.’”Brian Deese, the director of Mr. Biden’s National Economic Council, said in an interview that the law would increase competitiveness and productivity through a variety of spending programs.“This bill is going to be a game-changer in getting Americans to work,” Mr. Deese said.He added that it would allow people to gain access to economic opportunities through better public transportation, roads and bridges, and provide high-speed internet, which he called “the lifeblood of the 21st-century economy.”China’s large investments in its own infrastructure, and its threat to U.S. dominance in new and longstanding global industries, loomed large over the congressional negotiations that produced the law. Democratic and Republican lawmakers are more attuned than ever to Chinese spending, thanks to Mr. Biden and President Donald J. Trump, who both put competition with China at the center of their presidential campaigns last year.Understand U.S.-China RelationsCard 1 of 6A tense era in U.S.-China ties. More

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    Program to Lend Billions to Aid California’s Supply-Chain Infrastructure

    The Transportation Department and the state are teaming up on the program, which aims to prevent a repeat of the supply-chain crisis by bolstering ports and other sources of bottlenecks.WASHINGTON — The Transportation Department will team up with California to provide billions in loans to strengthen the state’s overwhelmed ports and supply-chain infrastructure, in an effort to prevent a repeat of the bottlenecks that have crippled the flow of goods into and out of the United States, officials announced on Thursday.Most of the projects will probably take years to fund and complete, a department spokesman said, so the initiative will offer little relief for the supply-chain crisis now gripping the globe. But with potentially more than $5 billion in loan money on offer, officials say the investment is a necessary step to bolster the state’s aging infrastructure.The loans could be used to upgrade ports, expand capacity for freight rail, increase warehouse storage and improve highways to reduce truck travel times. The Transportation Department will provide some of the loan money through its own programs, while also working with the California State Transportation Agency to identify other financing opportunities.Backlogs of ships at ports and shortages of shipping containers, truck drivers and warehouse workers have aggravated the delivery delays and rising prices that began when coronavirus outbreaks shut down factories around the world even as demand for goods spiked. The Biden administration moved this month to nearly double the hours that the Port of Los Angeles is open, shifting to a 24/7 operation.“Our supply chains are being put to the test, with unprecedented consumer demand and pandemic-driven disruptions combining with the results of decades-long underinvestment in our infrastructure,” Pete Buttigieg, the transportation secretary, said in a statement. “Today’s announcement marks an innovative partnership with California that will help modernize our infrastructure, confront climate change, speed the movement of goods and grow our economy.”The announcement comes as President Biden and lawmakers try to push through Congress their own major infrastructure plan, which includes money for ports and other transportation initiatives. Progressive lawmakers in the House have resisted throwing their support behind the bipartisan infrastructure bill as leverage while negotiations continue over a separate $1.85 trillion economic and environmental bill.David S. Kim, the secretary of the California State Transportation Agency, said it was the first time California had worked with the federal government to issue loans for infrastructure projects on such a broad scale.“Our supply-chain infrastructure is outdated,” Mr. Kim said. “Now’s the time to modernize it and prepare our system for what will be huge growth and huge demand for years to come.”The partnership comes after Gov. Gavin Newsom of California signed an executive order last week directing state agencies to identify longer-term solutions to alleviate congestion at California ports, which he said were “key” to the country’s supply chain. Mr. Newsom said the new agreement would help accelerate upgrades to the state’s infrastructure system.“This innovative federal-state partnership will help us fast-track those projects that will make our ports and infrastructure even more efficient,” Mr. Newsom said in a statement.California’s budget this year includes $250 million for ports, $280 million for infrastructure projects at and around the Port of Oakland, and $1.3 billion over three years for zero-emission trucks, transit buses and school buses, including the deployment of more than 1,000 zero-emission port drayage trucks. More

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    As Democrats Trim Spending Bill, Some Americans Fear Being Left Behind

    President Biden had an ambitious agenda to remake the economy. But under the duress of negotiations and Senate rules, he has shelved a series of proposals, some of them indefinitely.WASHINGTON — Democrats in Congress are curbing their ambitions for President Biden’s economic agenda, and Jennifer Mount, a home health care aide, worries that means she will not get the raise she needs to pay more than $3,000 in medical bills for blindness in one eye.Edison Suasnavas, who came to the United States from Ecuador as a child, has grown anxious about the administration’s efforts to establish a pathway to citizenship, which he hoped would allow him to keep doing molecular tests for cancer patients in Utah without fear of deportation.And Amy Stelly wonders — thanks to a winnowing of Mr. Biden’s plans to invest in neighborhoods harmed by previous infrastructure projects like highways that have harmed communities of color — whether she will continue to breathe fumes from a freeway that she says constantly make her home in New Orleans shudder. She has a message for the president and the Democrats who are in the process of trying to pack his sprawling agenda into a diminishing legislative package.“You come up and live next to this,” Ms. Stelly said. “You live this quality of life. We suffer while you debate.”Mr. Biden began his presidency with an expensive and wide-ranging agenda to remake the U.S. economy. But under the duress of negotiations and Senate rules, he has shelved a series of his most ambitious proposals, some of them indefinitely.He has been thwarted in his efforts to raise the federal minimum wage and create a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. He has pared back investments in lead pipe removal and other efforts that would help communities of color. Now, as the president tries to secure votes from moderates in his party, he is reducing what was originally a $3.5 trillion collection of tax cuts and spending programs to what could be a package of $2 trillion or less.That is still an enormous spending package, one that Mr. Biden argues could shift the landscape of the economy. But a wide range of Americans who have put their faith in his promises to reshape their jobs and lives are left to hope that the programs they are banking on will survive the cut; otherwise, they face the prospect of waiting years or perhaps decades for another window of opportunity in Washington.“The problem now is this may be the last train leaving the station for a long time,” said Jason Furman, an economist at the Harvard Kennedy School who was a top economic adviser to President Barack Obama. “It could be five, 10, 20 years before there’s another shot at a lot of these issues.”President Biden entered the White House with an expensive and ambitious agenda to remake the U.S. economy. He has pared back those plans.Tom Brenner for The New York TimesMr. Furman and other former Obama administration officials saw firsthand how quickly a presidential agenda can shrink, and how presidential and congressional decisions can leave campaign priorities unaddressed for years. Mr. Obama prioritized an economic stimulus package and the creation of the Affordable Care Act over sweeping immigration and climate legislation in the early years of his presidency.Stimulus and health care passed. The other two did not. A similar fate now could befall Mr. Biden’s plans for home care workers, paid leave, child care subsidies, free prekindergarten and community college, investments in racial equity and, once again, immigration and climate change.If Mr. Biden is able to push through a compromise bill with major investments in emissions reduction, “he’s got an engine that he’s working with” to fight climate change, said John Podesta, a former top aide to Mr. Obama and President Bill Clinton. “If he can’t get it, then I think, you know, we’re really kind of in soup, facing a major crisis.”Republicans have criticized the spending and the tax increases that would help fund it, claiming that the Democratic package would hurt the economy. Democrats “just have an insatiable appetite to raise taxes and spend more money,” Representative Steve Scalise, Republican of Louisiana, said on “Fox News Sunday” this week. “It would kill jobs.”Amy Stelly said she wondered whether she would continue to breathe fumes from the Claiborne Expressway, which is near her home in New Orleans.Edmund D. Fountain for The New York TimesThe threat of Republican filibusters has blocked Mr. Biden’s plans for gun and voting-rights legislation.For now, though, the president’s biggest problem is his own party. He is negotiating with progressives and moderates over the size of the larger tax and spending package. Centrists like Senators Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona have pushed for the price tag to fall below $2 trillion. Mr. Manchin has said he wants to limit the availability of some programs to lower- and middle-income earners. Progressive groups are jockeying to ensure that their preferred plans are not cut entirely from the bill.The House has proposed investing $190 billion in home health care, for example, less than half of what Mr. Biden initially asked for. If the price tag continues to decrease, Democrats would almost certainly have to choose between two concurrent aims: expanding access to older Americans in need of caretakers or raising the wages of those workers, a group that is disproportionately women of color.Another proposal included in Mr. Biden’s original infrastructure bill was an investment of $20 billion to address infrastructure that has splintered communities of color, although the funding was slashed to $1 billion through a compromise with Republican senators.Ms. Stelly thought the funds, plus the president’s sweeping proposals to address climate change — which might also be narrowed to appease centrist Democrats — would finally result in elected officials addressing the highway emissions that have filled her lungs and darkened the windows of her home.Ms. Stelly, an urban designer, has since limited her expectations. She said she hoped the funding would be enough to at least issue another study of the highway, which claimed dozens of Black-owned businesses and the once-thriving neighborhood of Tremé.The Claiborne Expressway bisects the residential neighborhood of Tremé in New Orleans. Ms. Stelly said she hoped the funding would be enough for another study on the effects of the highway.William Widmer for The New York TimesSome Democrats are eager to pack as much as they can into the bill because they fear losing the House, the Senate or both in the midterm elections next year. Mr. Podesta has urged lawmakers to see the package as a chance to avoid those losses by giving Democratic incumbents a batch of popular programs to run on, and also giving the president policy victories that could define his legacy.Mr. Biden has promoted some of his policies as ways to reverse racial disparities in the economy and lift families that are struggling in the coronavirus pandemic from poverty.Ms. Mount, who immigrated to the United States from Trinidad and Tobago, said she was appreciative of her job helping older Americans and the disabled eat and bathe and assisting them in their homes. But her wages for her long hours — working about 50 hours a week for $400, at times — have made it effectively impossible to stay on top of payments for basic needs.She had hoped Mr. Biden’s plan to raise the minimum wage or salaries for home health care aides meant she would no longer need to choose between her electric bills and her medical expenses. She said the treatment had improved her blindness, but without a salary increase for her field, she is more convinced that she will be working for the rest of her life.“I have to make a choice: Do I go to the grocery store or pay my mortgage? Do I pay my water bill or pay my electric bill?” said Ms. Mount, who lives in Philadelphia. “With that, retirement looks B-L-E-A-K, all uppercase. What do I have there for retirement?”When Mr. Biden initially proposed two years of free community college, Ms. Mount, 64, was encouraged about future opportunities for her six grandchildren in the United States. But she fears that effort could also be cut.“That’s politics from on top,” she said. “At times, they always seem detached.”Protesters gathered in front of the White House in August in support of the DACA program, which protects young immigrants from deportation.Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/Agence France-Presse — Getty ImagesSome measures that Democrats have long promised voters have run afoul of Senate rules that dictate which policies the administration should include in bills that use a special process to bypass the filibuster, including a minimum-wage increase and a plan to offer citizenship to immigrants brought to the United States as children.When the Senate parliamentarian rejected the strategy, it made Mr. Suasnavas, who has lived in the United States since he was 13, consider the prospect of eventually being deported; he would have to leave behind his job as a medical technology specialist, and his 6-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son.“We’ve been having the hopes that politicians in Washington — Democrats and Republicans — will see not only the economic impact we can bring to the country but also we’re still people with families,” said Mr. Suasnavas, 35. “Our hearts have been broken so many times that it feels like another wound in your skin.” More

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    Biden Presses Democrats to Embrace His Economic Agenda

    The president canceled a trip to Chicago in an attempt to salvage a pair of bills containing trillions of dollars in spending on infrastructure, education, climate change and more.WASHINGTON — President Biden and his aides mounted an all-out effort on Wednesday to salvage Mr. Biden’s economic agenda in Congress, attempting to forge even the beginnings of a compromise between moderates and progressives on a pair of bills that would spend trillions to rebuild infrastructure, expand access to education, fight climate change and more.Mr. Biden canceled a scheduled trip to Chicago, where he was planning to promote Covid-19 vaccinations, in order to continue talking with lawmakers during a critical week of deadlines in the House. One crucial holdout vote in the Senate, Kyrsten Sinema, a centrist from Arizona, was set to visit the White House on Wednesday morning, a person familiar with the meeting said.Ms. Sinema was one of the Democratic champions of a bipartisan bill, brokered by Mr. Biden, to spend more than $1 trillion over the next several years on physical infrastructure like water pipes, roads, bridges, electric vehicle charging stations and broadband internet. That bill passed the Senate this summer. It is set for a vote this week in the House. But progressive Democrats have threatened to block it unless it is coupled with a more expansive bill that contains much of the rest of Mr. Biden’s domestic agenda, like universal prekindergarten and free community college, a host of efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and tax breaks for workers and families that are meant to fight poverty and boost labor force participation.Ms. Sinema and another centrist in the Senate, Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, have expressed reservations over the scope of that larger bill and balked at the $3.5 trillion price tag that Democratic leaders have attached to it. Moderates in the House and Senate, led by Ms. Sinema, have resisted many of the tax increases on high earners and corporations that Mr. Biden proposed to offset the spending and tax cuts in the bill, in order to avoid adding further to the budget deficit.Mr. Biden has thus far failed to convince Ms. Sinema and Mr. Manchin to agree publicly to a framework for how much they are willing to spend and what taxes they are willing to raise to fund the more expansive bill. If Mr. Biden cannot find a way to address their concerns, while also assuaging progressives and persuading them to support his infrastructure bill, he could see the warring factions in his party kill his entire economic agenda in the span of a few days.Some Democrats have complained this week that the president has not engaged in talks to their satisfaction, though he has cleared his schedule this week in hopes of brokering a deal. He welcomed groups of progressives and moderates to the White House last week, for example, but met with each separately, as opposed to a group negotiation session.Both Ms. Sinema and Mr. Manchin visited the White House on Tuesday, but after their meetings, neither they nor White House officials would enumerate the contours of a bill they could support.“The president felt it was constructive, felt they moved the ball forward, felt there was an agreement, that we’re at a pivotal moment,” Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, told reporters on Tuesday, characterizing the meetings. “It’s important to continue to finalize the path forward to get the job done for the American people.”White House officials said late Tuesday that Mr. Biden remained in frequent contact with a wide range of Democrats, including phone calls with progressives, and that he would have more conversations on Wednesday. More

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    Biden Huddles With Democrats as Divisions Threaten His Agenda

    Democrats are nearing a make-or-break moment for President Biden’s agenda, with party divisions imperiling top-priority legislation and fiscal crises looming.WASHINGTON — President Biden huddled with congressional Democrats on Wednesday to try to break through a potentially devastating impasse over his multitrillion-dollar domestic agenda, toiling to bridge intraparty divisions over an ambitious social safety net bill and a major infrastructure measure as Congress raced to head off a fiscal calamity.Democrats on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue are nearing a make-or-break moment in their bid to push through huge new policies, as an escalating fight between the progressive and moderate wings — and a multitude of other divisions within the party — threatens to sink their chances of doing so while they retain control in Washington.At the same time, even the basic functions of Congress — keeping the government from shutting down next week and from defaulting on its debt sometime next month — are in peril as Republicans refuse to support legislation that would both fund the government and increase the statutory cap on federal borrowing.The challenges are unfolding against a backdrop of mistrust and strife within Democratic ranks. Moderates are pressing for quick action on the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill; progressives are demanding approval first of a far-reaching, $3.5 trillion domestic policy plan including vast new investments in climate, education, health and social programs.Without consensus on both, Democrats, who have minuscule majorities in the House and Senate, will not have enough votes to send either to Mr. Biden’s desk. That prospect has sown alarm at the top echelons of the party.On Wednesday, John D. Podesta, who held key White House roles under Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, sent a memo to every Democrat on Capitol Hill imploring them to scale back the $3.5 trillion plan in the interest of compromise, warning that doing otherwise would risk sinking both bills and costing the party control of Congress in next year’s midterm elections.“You are either getting both bills or neither — and the prospect of neither is unconscionable,” he wrote. “It would signal a complete and utter failure of our democratic duty, and a reckless abdication of our responsibility. It would define our generation’s history and show that, when our time came, we failed, both for Americans now and in the years to come.”Mr. Biden’s long day of meetings with lawmakers reflected a recognition that “there needs to be a deeper engagement by the president” to bring Democrats together, said Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary.The president, she added, “sees his role as uniting and as working to bring together people over common agreement and on a path forward.”That path is exceedingly murky as Democrats careen toward a tangle of fiscal and political deadlines with no discernible public strategy in place, but party leaders remained publicly sanguine on Wednesday..css-1xzcza9{list-style-type:disc;padding-inline-start:1em;}.css-3btd0c{font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size:1rem;line-height:1.375rem;color:#333;margin-bottom:0.78125rem;}@media (min-width:740px){.css-3btd0c{font-size:1.0625rem;line-height:1.5rem;margin-bottom:0.9375rem;}}.css-3btd0c strong{font-weight:600;}.css-3btd0c em{font-style:italic;}.css-1kpebx{margin:0 auto;font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-weight:700;font-size:1.125rem;line-height:1.3125rem;color:#121212;}#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-1kpebx{font-family:nyt-cheltenham,georgia,’times new roman’,times,serif;font-weight:700;font-size:1.375rem;line-height:1.625rem;}@media (min-width:740px){#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-1kpebx{font-size:1.6875rem;line-height:1.875rem;}}@media (min-width:740px){.css-1kpebx{font-size:1.25rem;line-height:1.4375rem;}}.css-1gtxqqv{margin-bottom:0;}.css-19zsuqr{display:block;margin-bottom:0.9375rem;}.css-12vbvwq{background-color:white;border:1px solid #e2e2e2;width:calc(100% – 40px);max-width:600px;margin:1.5rem auto 1.9rem;padding:15px;box-sizing:border-box;}@media (min-width:740px){.css-12vbvwq{padding:20px;width:100%;}}.css-12vbvwq:focus{outline:1px solid #e2e2e2;}#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-12vbvwq{border:none;padding:10px 0 0;border-top:2px solid #121212;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-rdoyk0{-webkit-transform:rotate(0deg);-ms-transform:rotate(0deg);transform:rotate(0deg);}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-eb027h{max-height:300px;overflow:hidden;-webkit-transition:none;transition:none;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-5gimkt:after{content:’See more’;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-6mllg9{opacity:1;}.css-qjk116{margin:0 auto;overflow:hidden;}.css-qjk116 strong{font-weight:700;}.css-qjk116 em{font-style:italic;}.css-qjk116 a{color:#326891;-webkit-text-decoration:underline;text-decoration:underline;text-underline-offset:1px;-webkit-text-decoration-thickness:1px;text-decoration-thickness:1px;-webkit-text-decoration-color:#326891;text-decoration-color:#326891;}.css-qjk116 a:visited{color:#326891;-webkit-text-decoration-color:#326891;text-decoration-color:#326891;}.css-qjk116 a:hover{-webkit-text-decoration:none;text-decoration:none;}“We are on schedule — that’s all I will say,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters after meeting with Mr. Biden for more than an hour. “We’re calm, and everybody’s good, and our work’s almost done.”But Democrats conceded that the process was painful.“When you’ve got 50 votes and none to lose, and you’ve got three to spare in the House, there’s a lot of give and take — that’s just the way it is,” said Senator Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent who is chairman of the Budget Committee. “It’s tough. But I think at the end of the day, we’re going to be fine.”At the crux of the stalemate is a leadership commitment to a group of moderate Democrats that the House would take up the Senate-passed bipartisan infrastructure bill by Monday. Liberal House Democrats say they will vote down the measure until their priority legislation first clears both the House and Senate.Those Democrats say the infrastructure bill, which omitted most of their top priorities including major provisions to combat climate change, cannot be separated from the $3.5 trillion package, which contains many of those elements, such as a shift to electric power. Beyond the climate portions, the social policy measure would, among many other things, extend child care and child tax credits, expand free prekindergarten and community college and fortify Medicare.But key centrists in the Senate have balked at that package, which Democrats plan to push through using a fast-track budget process known as reconciliation that shields it from a filibuster. Senators Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona both voted to begin work on a $3.5 trillion measure, but have since warned they will not support spending that much.On Wednesday, Mr. Biden urged the holdouts to specify exactly what they would support, so Democrats could coalesce behind a plan that could pass.“Find a number you’re comfortable with, based on what you believe the needs that we still have, and how we deliver to the American people,” Mr. Manchin said, describing the president’s request. “He was very straightforward in what he asked us to do.”The internal disputes are escalating just as Congress is facing urgent deadlines. Without congressional action, at 12:01 a.m. next Friday, federal funding will lapse, shutting down the government. And at some point in October, the Treasury Department will reach its statutory borrowing limit, forcing it to halt some payments to international creditors, Social Security recipients and government contractors.Amid those looming crises, Republican leaders are practically taunting Democrats, refusing to back legislation coupling a debt-limit increase and a stopgap spending measure.“Don’t play Russian roulette with the economy; step up and raise the debt ceiling,” Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, said on Wednesday, even as he vowed not to give Democrats a single Republican vote.Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leaders, is encouraging Democrats to raise the debt ceiling even as he tells his own caucus to vote against it.Sarahbeth Maney/The New York TimesAnd House Republicans on Wednesday urged their rank-and-file members to oppose the bipartisan infrastructure bill that they said had been “inextricably linked” to the reconciliation package.“Republicans should not aid in this destructive process,” the office of Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the No. 2 Republican, warned in a notice calling for “no” votes.On Wednesday, a bipartisan group of former Treasury secretaries wrote to congressional leaders in both parties to express a “deep sense of urgency” to raise the debt limit. Jerome H. Powell, the Federal Reserve chair, offered a similar plea in a news conference.“No one should assume that the Fed or anyone else can protect the markets and the economy, fully protect, in the event of a failure to make sure that we do pay those debts when they’re due,” he said..css-1xzcza9{list-style-type:disc;padding-inline-start:1em;}.css-3btd0c{font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size:1rem;line-height:1.375rem;color:#333;margin-bottom:0.78125rem;}@media (min-width:740px){.css-3btd0c{font-size:1.0625rem;line-height:1.5rem;margin-bottom:0.9375rem;}}.css-3btd0c strong{font-weight:600;}.css-3btd0c em{font-style:italic;}.css-w739ur{margin:0 auto 5px;font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-weight:700;font-size:1.125rem;line-height:1.3125rem;color:#121212;}#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-w739ur{font-family:nyt-cheltenham,georgia,’times new roman’,times,serif;font-weight:700;font-size:1.375rem;line-height:1.625rem;}@media (min-width:740px){#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-w739ur{font-size:1.6875rem;line-height:1.875rem;}}@media (min-width:740px){.css-w739ur{font-size:1.25rem;line-height:1.4375rem;}}.css-9s9ecg{margin-bottom:15px;}.css-16ed7iq{width:100%;display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-align-items:center;-webkit-box-align:center;-ms-flex-align:center;align-items:center;-webkit-box-pack:center;-webkit-justify-content:center;-ms-flex-pack:center;justify-content:center;padding:10px 0;background-color:white;}.css-pmm6ed{display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-align-items:center;-webkit-box-align:center;-ms-flex-align:center;align-items:center;}.css-pmm6ed > :not(:first-child){margin-left:5px;}.css-5gimkt{font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size:0.8125rem;font-weight:700;-webkit-letter-spacing:0.03em;-moz-letter-spacing:0.03em;-ms-letter-spacing:0.03em;letter-spacing:0.03em;text-transform:uppercase;color:#333;}.css-5gimkt:after{content:’Collapse’;}.css-rdoyk0{-webkit-transition:all 0.5s ease;transition:all 0.5s ease;-webkit-transform:rotate(180deg);-ms-transform:rotate(180deg);transform:rotate(180deg);}.css-eb027h{max-height:5000px;-webkit-transition:max-height 0.5s ease;transition:max-height 0.5s ease;}.css-6mllg9{-webkit-transition:all 0.5s ease;transition:all 0.5s ease;position:relative;opacity:0;}.css-6mllg9:before{content:”;background-image:linear-gradient(180deg,transparent,#ffffff);background-image:-webkit-linear-gradient(270deg,rgba(255,255,255,0),#ffffff);height:80px;width:100%;position:absolute;bottom:0px;pointer-events:none;}.css-uf1ume{display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-box-pack:justify;-webkit-justify-content:space-between;-ms-flex-pack:justify;justify-content:space-between;}.css-wxi1cx{display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-flex-direction:column;-ms-flex-direction:column;flex-direction:column;-webkit-align-self:flex-end;-ms-flex-item-align:end;align-self:flex-end;}.css-12vbvwq{background-color:white;border:1px solid #e2e2e2;width:calc(100% – 40px);max-width:600px;margin:1.5rem auto 1.9rem;padding:15px;box-sizing:border-box;}@media (min-width:740px){.css-12vbvwq{padding:20px;width:100%;}}.css-12vbvwq:focus{outline:1px solid #e2e2e2;}#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-12vbvwq{border:none;padding:10px 0 0;border-top:2px solid #121212;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-rdoyk0{-webkit-transform:rotate(0deg);-ms-transform:rotate(0deg);transform:rotate(0deg);}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-eb027h{max-height:300px;overflow:hidden;-webkit-transition:none;transition:none;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-5gimkt:after{content:’See more’;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-6mllg9{opacity:1;}.css-qjk116{margin:0 auto;overflow:hidden;}.css-qjk116 strong{font-weight:700;}.css-qjk116 em{font-style:italic;}.css-qjk116 a{color:#326891;-webkit-text-decoration:underline;text-decoration:underline;text-underline-offset:1px;-webkit-text-decoration-thickness:1px;text-decoration-thickness:1px;-webkit-text-decoration-color:#326891;text-decoration-color:#326891;}.css-qjk116 a:visited{color:#326891;-webkit-text-decoration-color:#326891;text-decoration-color:#326891;}.css-qjk116 a:hover{-webkit-text-decoration:none;text-decoration:none;}Beyond that issue, Democrats must find a way to salvage Mr. Biden’s agenda. They had hoped to emerge from Wednesday’s meeting with public commitments from key moderates including Mr. Manchin and Ms. Sinema to support a reconciliation bill, but by evening they still had no such statement from the two senators.Offering “Covid-safe” individually wrapped chocolate chip cookies bearing the presidential seal, Mr. Biden spent much of the day on Wednesday hosting groups of lawmakers in the Oval Office, beginning with Ms. Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader.He met with nearly two dozen senators and House members from across the ideological range of his party, including liberal leaders and some of the moderates who played key roles in negotiating the infrastructure bill.By Monday, leaders hope to reach agreement on a total price for the reconciliation measure, which will likely fall below the $3.5 trillion budget blueprint, and an ironclad agreement on some key provisions that must be in the final package.So far, neither side is budging. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York, accused more conservative Democrats of making “impulsive and arbitrary demands,” while setting unnecessary deadlines like the Monday infrastructure vote.“The package, the investments and the programs that we have in there are rather nonnegotiable. That’s why we are kind of at this impasse,” she said, adding, “We are at a moment, and a test of political will.”Representative Stephanie Murphy, a moderate from Florida, said it would be “really disappointing and embarrassing” if the infrastructure bill failed because of opposition from progressives.After her meeting with Mr. Biden, Representative Pramila Jayapal of Washington, the chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said that “there isn’t a lot of trust” among Democrats, reiterating that liberals would follow through on their promise to vote against the infrastructure measure on Monday.But the list of moderate objections is long and varied. Representative Kurt Schrader of Oregon wants a bill that spends less than $1 trillion over 10 years. Representative Ed Case of Hawaii has said he will not accept phasing in or phasing out of programs and tax measures to mask their true costs if made permanent. Representative Kathleen Rice of New York objects to the get-tough approach to curb prescription drug prices.And the disputes go beyond ideological differences. Representative Tom Suozzi of New York says he will not vote for any version that does not substantially reinstate the state and local tax deduction, a crucial issue for high-tax states. Representative Alma Adams of North Carolina says she will oppose the bill if it does not include tens of billions of dollars more for historically Black colleges and minority-serving institutions.Democrats across the ideological spectrum said forging consensus would be a tall order.“We’ve got a hectic few days ahead,” Representative Josh Gottheimer, a moderate from New Jersey, said after emerging from his negotiating session with Mr. Biden and other lawmakers.Catie Edmondson More

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    Biden's Infrastructure Plan: Scarcity of Skilled Workers Poses Challenge

    One estimate says the bill would add $1.4 trillion to the U.S. economy over eight years, but without enough workers, efforts to strengthen roads and public transit could be set back.WASHINGTON — The infrastructure bill that President Biden hopes to get through Congress is supposed to create jobs and spur projects for companies like Anchor Construction, which specializes in repairing aging bridges and roadways in the nation’s capital.But with baby boomers aging out of the work force and not enough young people to replace them, John M. Irvine, a senior vice president at Anchor, worries there will not be enough workers to hire for all those new projects.“I’d be surprised if there’s any firm out there saying they’re ready for this,” said Mr. Irvine, whose company is hiring about a dozen skilled laborers, pipe layers and concrete finishers. If the bill passes Congress, he said, the company will most likely have to double the amount it is hiring.“We will have to staff up,” Mr. Irvine said. “And no, there are not enough skilled workers to fill these jobs.”Mr. Biden has hailed the $1 trillion infrastructure bill as a way to create millions of jobs, but as the country faces a dire shortage of skilled workers, researchers and economists say companies may find it difficult to fill all of those positions.The bill could generate new jobs in industries critical to keeping the nation’s public works systems running, such as construction, transportation and energy. S&P Global Ratings estimated that the bill would lift productivity and economic growth, adding $1.4 trillion to the U.S. economy over eight years. But if there is not enough labor to keep up with the demand, efforts to strengthen the nation’s highways, bridges and public transit could be set back.“Do we have the work force ready right now to take care of this? Absolutely not,” said Beverly Scott, the vice chair of the President’s National Infrastructure Advisory Council..css-1xzcza9{list-style-type:disc;padding-inline-start:1em;}.css-3btd0c{font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size:1rem;line-height:1.375rem;color:#333;margin-bottom:0.78125rem;}@media (min-width:740px){.css-3btd0c{font-size:1.0625rem;line-height:1.5rem;margin-bottom:0.9375rem;}}.css-3btd0c strong{font-weight:600;}.css-3btd0c em{font-style:italic;}.css-1kpebx{margin:0 auto;font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-weight:700;font-size:1.125rem;line-height:1.3125rem;color:#121212;}#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-1kpebx{font-family:nyt-cheltenham,georgia,’times new roman’,times,serif;font-weight:700;font-size:1.375rem;line-height:1.625rem;}@media (min-width:740px){#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-1kpebx{font-size:1.6875rem;line-height:1.875rem;}}@media (min-width:740px){.css-1kpebx{font-size:1.25rem;line-height:1.4375rem;}}.css-1gtxqqv{margin-bottom:0;}.css-19zsuqr{display:block;margin-bottom:0.9375rem;}.css-12vbvwq{background-color:white;border:1px solid #e2e2e2;width:calc(100% – 40px);max-width:600px;margin:1.5rem auto 1.9rem;padding:15px;box-sizing:border-box;}@media (min-width:740px){.css-12vbvwq{padding:20px;width:100%;}}.css-12vbvwq:focus{outline:1px solid #e2e2e2;}#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-12vbvwq{border:none;padding:10px 0 0;border-top:2px solid #121212;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-rdoyk0{-webkit-transform:rotate(0deg);-ms-transform:rotate(0deg);transform:rotate(0deg);}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-eb027h{max-height:300px;overflow:hidden;-webkit-transition:none;transition:none;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-5gimkt:after{content:’See more’;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-6mllg9{opacity:1;}.css-qjk116{margin:0 auto;overflow:hidden;}.css-qjk116 strong{font-weight:700;}.css-qjk116 em{font-style:italic;}.css-qjk116 a{color:#326891;-webkit-text-decoration:underline;text-decoration:underline;text-underline-offset:1px;-webkit-text-decoration-thickness:1px;text-decoration-thickness:1px;-webkit-text-decoration-color:#326891;text-decoration-color:#326891;}.css-qjk116 a:visited{color:#326891;-webkit-text-decoration-color:#326891;text-decoration-color:#326891;}.css-qjk116 a:hover{-webkit-text-decoration:none;text-decoration:none;}A recent U.S. Chamber of Commerce survey found that 88 percent of commercial construction contractors reported moderate-to-high levels of difficulty finding skilled workers, and more than a third had to turn down work because of labor deficiencies. The industry could face a shortage of at least two million workers through 2025, according to an estimate from Construction Industry Resources, a data firm in Kentucky.The pandemic has compounded labor shortages, as sectors like construction see a boom in home projects with more people teleworking and moving to the suburbs. Contractors have also faced a scarcity of supplies as prices soared for products like lumber and steel.Job openings in construction have picked up at a rapid clip after the sector lost more than one million jobs at the beginning of the pandemic. According to an Associated Builders and Contractors analysis, construction job openings have increased by 12 percent from prepandemic levels. But the sector is still down about 232,000 jobs from February 2020, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.The issue underscores a perennial challenge for the skilled trades. Not enough young people are entering the sectors, a concern for companies as older workers retire from construction, carpentry and plumbing jobs. And although many skilled trade positions have competitive wages and lower educational barriers to entry, newer generations tend to see a four-year college degree as the default path to success.Infrastructure workers tend to be older than average, raising concerns about workers retiring and leaving behind difficult-to-fill positions. The median age of construction and building inspectors, for instance, is 53, compared with 42.5 for all workers nationwide. Only 10 percent of infrastructure workers are under 25, while 13 percent of all U.S. workers are in that age group, according to a Brookings Institution analysis.“The challenge is, how are we going to replace — not just grow, but replace — many of the workers who are retiring or leaving jobs?” said Joseph W. Kane, a fellow at the Brookings Institution. “​A lot of people, especially younger people, just aren’t even aware that these jobs exist.”Community colleges, which offer a variety of vocational training programs, have suffered steep declines in enrollment. A recent estimate from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center found that community colleges were the hardest hit among all colleges, with enrollment declining by 9.5 percent this spring. More than 65 percent of the total undergraduate enrollment losses this spring occurred at community colleges, according to the report.John M. Irvine, a senior vice president at Anchor Construction, worries there will not be enough workers to hire for new projects.Alyssa Schukar for The New York TimesNicholas Kadavy, a third-generation mason who owns Nebraska Masonry in Lincoln, Neb., has seen his workload triple since April. He said his company had already scheduled out work until June 2022.He wants to hire more skilled masons to finish the projects sooner, but he can’t find enough people to fill the dozen positions he has open, even though he is willing to pay up to $50 an hour — twice what he offered before the pandemic. He checks his email daily, waiting for more applications to come in.“My biggest struggle is finding guys that want to work,” Mr. Kadavy said.Even when he does hear from applicants, Mr. Kadavy said, he is unable to hire many of them because they are not qualified enough. He was already seeing a shortage of skilled masons before the pandemic, he said, and he worries that the craft is “dying” because newer generations are not pursuing the field.The nation’s public transit systems would receive $39 billion under the infrastructure bill, allowing agencies to expand service and upgrade decades-old infrastructure. But transit agencies are dealing with worker shortages of their own, facing a dearth of bus drivers, subway operators and maintenance technicians.Metro Transit in Minneapolis is trying to hire about 100 bus drivers by the end of the year, said Brian Funk, the agency’s acting chief operating officer. The agency had originally aimed to hire 70 workers by the end of June, but it met only about half of that goal.Although he is optimistic that the agency will be able to fill those remaining positions after ramping up efforts to promote the openings, he said he was still wary about some workers choosing to leave.“We know that every day that goes by, there’s the potential that somebody else is looking at either retirement or another job,” Mr. Funk said.Some are optimistic that policymakers will be able to scale up work force development programs to keep up with the demand the infrastructure bill would create. Projects could take several months to get started, economists said, giving the country time to train workers who are not yet qualified.“These problems are not insurmountable,” said Nicole Smith, the chief economist at the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. “Not having a sufficiently trained work force is something that can be addressed.”But others are worried that the bill does not do enough to draw more people into infrastructure fields, especially historically underrepresented groups like women and people of color. Although Mr. Biden originally proposed a $100 billion investment in work force development, that funding was left out in the latest version of the bipartisan infrastructure bill. The funding would have invested in job training for formerly incarcerated people and created millions of registered apprenticeships, among other things.Last week, the National Skills Coalition and more than 500 other organizations sent a letter to congressional leadership calling on it to include the funding in a separate reconciliation bill.“President Biden promised that economic recovery was going to be predicated on equity,” said Andy Van Kleunen, the chief executive of the National Skills Coalition. “Work force training has to be part of that answer.” More

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    India’s Economic Figures Belie Covid-19’s Toll

    Strong results compared with last year’s performance mask lingering weaknesses that could hold back needed job creation.NEW DELHI — The coronavirus continues to batter India’s damaged economy, putting growing pressure on Prime Minister Narendra Modi to nurture a nascent recovery and get the country back to work.The coronavirus, which has struck in two waves, has killed hundreds of thousands of people and at times has brought cities to a halt. Infections and deaths have eased, and the country is returning to work. Economists predict that growth could surge in the second half of the year on paper.Still, the damage could take years to undo. Economic output was 9.2 percent lower for the April-through-June period this year than what it was for the same period in 2019, according to India Ratings, a credit ratings agency.The coronavirus has essentially robbed India of much of the momentum it needed to provide jobs for its young and fast-growing work force. It has also exacerbated longer-term problems that were already dragging down growth, such as high debt, a lack of competitiveness with other countries and policy missteps.Economists are particularly concerned about the slow rate of vaccinations and the possibility of a third wave of the coronavirus, which could prove to be disastrous for any economic recovery.“Vaccination progress remains slow,” with just 11 percent of the population fully inoculated so far, Priyanka Kishore, the head of India and Southeast Asia at Oxford Economics, said in a research briefing last week. The firm lowered its growth rate for 2021 to 8.8 percent, from 9.1 percent.Even growth of 8.8 percent would be a strong number in better times. Compared with the prior year, India’s economy grew 20.1 percent April through June, according to estimates released Tuesday evening by the Ministry of Statistics and Program Implementation.But those comparisons benefit from comparison with India’s dismal performance last year. The economy shrank 7.3 percent last year, when the government shut down the economy to stop a first wave of the coronavirus. That led to big job losses, now among the biggest hurdles holding back growth, experts say.The coronavirus continues to batter India’s damaged economy, putting growing pressure on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.Money Sharma/Agence France-Presse — Getty ImagesReal household incomes have fallen further this year, said Mahesh Vyas, the chief executive of the Center for Monitoring Indian Economy. “Till this is not repaired,” he said, “the Indian economy can’t bounce back.”At least 3.2 million Indians lost stable, well-paying salaried jobs in July alone, Mr. Vyas estimated. Small traders and daily wage laborers suffered bigger job losses during the lockdowns than others, though they were able to go back to work once the restrictions were lifted, Mr. Vyas said in a report this month.“Salaried jobs are not similarly elastic,” he said. “It is difficult to retrieve a lost salaried job.”About 10 million people have lost such jobs since the beginning of the pandemic, Mr. Vyas said.Mr. Modi’s government moved this month to rekindle the economy by selling stakes worth close to $81 billion in state-owned assets like airports, railway stations and stadiums. But economists largely see the policy as a move to generate cash in the short term. It remains to be seen if it will lead to more investment, they say.“The whole idea is that the government will borrow this money from the domestic market,” said Devendra Kumar Pant, the chief economist at India Ratings. “But what happens if this project goes to a domestic player and he is having to borrow in the domestic market? Your credit demand domestically won’t change.”Dr. Pant added that questions remained about how willing private players would be to maintain those assets long term and how the monetization policy would ultimately affect prices for consumers..css-1xzcza9{list-style-type:disc;padding-inline-start:1em;}.css-3btd0c{font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size:1rem;line-height:1.375rem;color:#333;margin-bottom:0.78125rem;}@media (min-width:740px){.css-3btd0c{font-size:1.0625rem;line-height:1.5rem;margin-bottom:0.9375rem;}}.css-3btd0c strong{font-weight:600;}.css-3btd0c em{font-style:italic;}.css-w739ur{margin:0 auto 5px;font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-weight:700;font-size:1.125rem;line-height:1.3125rem;color:#121212;}#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-w739ur{font-family:nyt-cheltenham,georgia,’times new roman’,times,serif;font-weight:700;font-size:1.375rem;line-height:1.625rem;}@media (min-width:740px){#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-w739ur{font-size:1.6875rem;line-height:1.875rem;}}@media (min-width:740px){.css-w739ur{font-size:1.25rem;line-height:1.4375rem;}}.css-9s9ecg{margin-bottom:15px;}.css-16ed7iq{width:100%;display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-align-items:center;-webkit-box-align:center;-ms-flex-align:center;align-items:center;-webkit-box-pack:center;-webkit-justify-content:center;-ms-flex-pack:center;justify-content:center;padding:10px 0;background-color:white;}.css-pmm6ed{display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-align-items:center;-webkit-box-align:center;-ms-flex-align:center;align-items:center;}.css-pmm6ed > :not(:first-child){margin-left:5px;}.css-5gimkt{font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size:0.8125rem;font-weight:700;-webkit-letter-spacing:0.03em;-moz-letter-spacing:0.03em;-ms-letter-spacing:0.03em;letter-spacing:0.03em;text-transform:uppercase;color:#333;}.css-5gimkt:after{content:’Collapse’;}.css-rdoyk0{-webkit-transition:all 0.5s ease;transition:all 0.5s ease;-webkit-transform:rotate(180deg);-ms-transform:rotate(180deg);transform:rotate(180deg);}.css-eb027h{max-height:5000px;-webkit-transition:max-height 0.5s ease;transition:max-height 0.5s ease;}.css-6mllg9{-webkit-transition:all 0.5s ease;transition:all 0.5s ease;position:relative;opacity:0;}.css-6mllg9:before{content:”;background-image:linear-gradient(180deg,transparent,#ffffff);background-image:-webkit-linear-gradient(270deg,rgba(255,255,255,0),#ffffff);height:80px;width:100%;position:absolute;bottom:0px;pointer-events:none;}.css-uf1ume{display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-box-pack:justify;-webkit-justify-content:space-between;-ms-flex-pack:justify;justify-content:space-between;}.css-wxi1cx{display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-flex-direction:column;-ms-flex-direction:column;flex-direction:column;-webkit-align-self:flex-end;-ms-flex-item-align:end;align-self:flex-end;}.css-12vbvwq{background-color:white;border:1px solid #e2e2e2;width:calc(100% – 40px);max-width:600px;margin:1.5rem auto 1.9rem;padding:15px;box-sizing:border-box;}@media (min-width:740px){.css-12vbvwq{padding:20px;width:100%;}}.css-12vbvwq:focus{outline:1px solid #e2e2e2;}#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-12vbvwq{border:none;padding:10px 0 0;border-top:2px solid #121212;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-rdoyk0{-webkit-transform:rotate(0deg);-ms-transform:rotate(0deg);transform:rotate(0deg);}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-eb027h{max-height:300px;overflow:hidden;-webkit-transition:none;transition:none;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-5gimkt:after{content:’See more’;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-6mllg9{opacity:1;}.css-qjk116{margin:0 auto;overflow:hidden;}.css-qjk116 strong{font-weight:700;}.css-qjk116 em{font-style:italic;}.css-qjk116 a{color:#326891;-webkit-text-decoration:underline;text-decoration:underline;text-underline-offset:1px;-webkit-text-decoration-thickness:1px;text-decoration-thickness:1px;-webkit-text-decoration-color:#326891;text-decoration-color:#326891;}.css-qjk116 a:visited{color:#326891;-webkit-text-decoration-color:#326891;text-decoration-color:#326891;}.css-qjk116 a:hover{-webkit-text-decoration:none;text-decoration:none;}“In India, things will decay for the worse rather than improve,” he said, adding that the costs to users of highways and other infrastructure could go up.During the second wave in May, Mr. Modi resisted calls by many epidemiologists, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, to reinstitute a nationwide lockdown.At a vaccination site in India in June. Economists are particularly concerned about the slow rate of vaccinations and the possibility of a third wave of the coronavirus.Saumya Khandelwal for The New York TimesThe lockdowns in 2021 were nowhere near as severe as the nationwide curbs last year, which pushed millions of people out of cities and into rural areas, often on foot because rail and other transportation had been suspended.Throughout the second wave, core infrastructure projects across the country, which employ millions of domestic migrant workers, were exempted from restrictions. More than 15,000 miles of Indian highway projects, along with rail and city metro improvements, continued.On Tuesday, Dr. Pant said India’s growth estimates of 20.1 percent for the April-through-June period were nothing but an “illusion.” Growth contracted so sharply around the same period last year, by a record 24 percent, that even double-digit gains this year would leave the economy behind where it was two years ago.Economists say India needs to spend, even splurge, to unlock the full potential of its huge low-skilled work force. “There is a need for very simple primary health facilities, primary services to deliver nutrition to children,” Mr. Vyas said. “All these are highly labor intensive jobs, and these are government services largely.”One of the reasons Indian governments typically have not spent in those areas, Mr. Vyas said, is that it has been considered “not a sexy thing to do.” Another is the governments’ “dogmatic fixation” with keeping fiscal deficits in control, he said. The government simply can’t rely on private sector alone for creating jobs, Mr. Vyas said.The “only solution,” he said, is for the government to spend and spur private investment. “You have a de-motivated private sector because there isn’t enough demand. That’s what’s holding India back.” More

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    As Infrastructure Bill Nears Key Vote, Deficit Takes Back Seat

    Many Republicans are disregarding the deficit impact for the sprawling infrastructure bill, but intend to change course for looming battles on social spending and the debt ceiling.WASHINGTON — The bipartisan shrug that greeted the news that the Senate’s infrastructure bill contains $256 billion worth of deficit spending marked a new moment in the post-Trump era, one that highlighted how deficits matter only situationally to Republicans and inflation fears ebb and flow, depending on the politics of the issue.With a key test vote on the infrastructure measure expected around noon on Saturday, the Republican Party’s blasé attitude toward deficits will last only a matter of days.By early next week, with the bill likely passed, Democratic leaders will have to decide how to deal with a looming crisis: the approaching statutory limit on how much the Treasury can borrow to finance the government’s debt.They will also be pressing for Senate passage of a budget resolution intended to speed approval of $3.5 trillion in spending on health care, education, child care, immigration and other social policies, much of which would be paid for by tax increases on corporations and the wealthy.And the muffled murmurs from Republicans over infrastructure costs will give way to howls of outrage.“That will be an extraordinary debate of enormous dimension,” Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, predicted. “I can’t think of a single issue that underscores the difference between the two parties more than the reckless tax-and-spending spree that we’ll be dealing with here in the next week or two.”In the past, the Congressional Budget Office has loomed like the sword of Damocles over delicate legislative compromises, a nonpartisan scorekeeper whose rulings on the nation’s finances and fortunes could sink or propel hard-fought policy measures. The budget office’s prediction that successive Republican measures to replace the Affordable Care Act would cost tens of millions of Americans their health insurance effectively doomed those efforts.But the 10-year price tag the budget office put out this week for the bipartisan infrastructure bill changed no minds, even though it reported that the measure would tack a quarter trillion dollars to an already swollen sea of federal red ink. Many Republicans are beginning to regard spending on highways, bridges, rail lines and broadband the way Democrats have for years — as a long-term investment in the nation’s economic future that need not cause short-term deficit heartburn, especially when borrowing costs are at rock-bottom rates.The federal budget deficit has reached staggering proportions, driven by successive pandemic rescue packages, an economic collapse and the huge 2017 tax cut signed by President Donald J. Trump. Without counting the costs of the infrastructure or social policy bills, the C.B.O. had projected the deficit for the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30 would reach $3 trillion; the federal debt held by the public will exceed the size of the entire economy. Within 10 years, that debt is poised to equal 106 percent of the economy, the highest level in the nation’s history.Despite a resurgent coronavirus, the economy appears to be recovering. Employers added 943,000 jobs in July, the Labor Department reported Friday, and Jerome H. Powell, the Federal Reserve chair, acknowledged in late July that inflation remained a real risk in the near term“We think that some of it will fall away naturally as the process of reopening the economy moves through,” Mr. Powell said of inflation, before adding, “It could take some time.”But the federal spending of the Trump era appears to have given his party permission to put austerity in the rearview mirror, at least for some measures.In a statement on Thursday in response to the C.B.O. price tag, Senators Rob Portman, Republican of Ohio, and Kyrsten Sinema, Democrat of Arizona, the two lead negotiators on the infrastructure deal, defended the bipartisan legislation as “a historic investment in our nation’s core infrastructure needs.”That rationale reflected longstanding arguments from liberals, which Mr. Portman and Ms. Sinema decidedly are not.“Almost every state, county and private-sector organization pays for ongoing operating expenses with ongoing revenue, and pays for physical infrastructure with debt financing,” Senator Brian Schatz, Democrat of Hawaii, said on Friday. “Anything that provides value over a long period of time should be paid for over a long period of time. This isn’t some wacky new political philosophy; it’s just smart money management.”And because Democrats have vowed to pay for their social policy spending with tax increases and other measures, such as allowing Medicare to bargain for lower drug prices, that legislation will not increase the deficit, said Senator Chris Van Hollen, Democrat of Maryland and a member of the Senate Budget Committee.“We are going to be paying for the American Family Plan; we are going to offset those investments, and yet you’re going to have Republicans again shedding crocodile tears over the deficit,” he said.“There is a good faith discussion about how much spending is too much,” Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen said this week.Stefani Reynolds for The New York TimesTreasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen is undergoing her own reappraisal of deficit spending. In recent years, she expressed concern about the nation’s fiscal situation, even suggesting that raising taxes and cutting retirement spending would be wise. But since becoming the Treasury chief, she has espoused the view that, with interest rates at historic lows, now is the time for big spending.“There is a good faith discussion about how much spending is too much,” Ms. Yellen said during a speech in Atlanta this week. “But if we are going to make these investments, now is fiscally the most strategic time to make them.”Those arguments are hurtling toward a separate but politically connected issue: the government’s statutory borrowing limit. The official deadline to raise the debt limit came and went at the beginning of the month, forcing Ms. Yellen to employ “extraordinary measures” to keep the nation from defaulting on its debt and provoking a global economic crisis..css-1xzcza9{list-style-type:disc;padding-inline-start:1em;}.css-3btd0c{font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size:1rem;line-height:1.375rem;color:#333;margin-bottom:0.78125rem;}@media (min-width:740px){.css-3btd0c{font-size:1.0625rem;line-height:1.5rem;margin-bottom:0.9375rem;}}.css-3btd0c strong{font-weight:600;}.css-3btd0c em{font-style:italic;}.css-w739ur{margin:0 auto 5px;font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-weight:700;font-size:1.125rem;line-height:1.3125rem;color:#121212;}#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-w739ur{font-family:nyt-cheltenham,georgia,’times new roman’,times,serif;font-weight:700;font-size:1.375rem;line-height:1.625rem;}@media (min-width:740px){#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-w739ur{font-size:1.6875rem;line-height:1.875rem;}}@media (min-width:740px){.css-w739ur{font-size:1.25rem;line-height:1.4375rem;}}.css-9s9ecg{margin-bottom:15px;}.css-16ed7iq{width:100%;display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-align-items:center;-webkit-box-align:center;-ms-flex-align:center;align-items:center;-webkit-box-pack:center;-webkit-justify-content:center;-ms-flex-pack:center;justify-content:center;padding:10px 0;background-color:white;}.css-pmm6ed{display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-align-items:center;-webkit-box-align:center;-ms-flex-align:center;align-items:center;}.css-pmm6ed > :not(:first-child){margin-left:5px;}.css-5gimkt{font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size:0.8125rem;font-weight:700;-webkit-letter-spacing:0.03em;-moz-letter-spacing:0.03em;-ms-letter-spacing:0.03em;letter-spacing:0.03em;text-transform:uppercase;color:#333;}.css-5gimkt:after{content:’Collapse’;}.css-rdoyk0{-webkit-transition:all 0.5s ease;transition:all 0.5s ease;-webkit-transform:rotate(180deg);-ms-transform:rotate(180deg);transform:rotate(180deg);}.css-eb027h{max-height:5000px;-webkit-transition:max-height 0.5s ease;transition:max-height 0.5s ease;}.css-6mllg9{-webkit-transition:all 0.5s ease;transition:all 0.5s ease;position:relative;opacity:0;}.css-6mllg9:before{content:”;background-image:linear-gradient(180deg,transparent,#ffffff);background-image:-webkit-linear-gradient(270deg,rgba(255,255,255,0),#ffffff);height:80px;width:100%;position:absolute;bottom:0px;pointer-events:none;}.css-uf1ume{display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-box-pack:justify;-webkit-justify-content:space-between;-ms-flex-pack:justify;justify-content:space-between;}.css-wxi1cx{display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-flex-direction:column;-ms-flex-direction:column;flex-direction:column;-webkit-align-self:flex-end;-ms-flex-item-align:end;align-self:flex-end;}.css-12vbvwq{background-color:white;border:1px solid #e2e2e2;width:calc(100% – 40px);max-width:600px;margin:1.5rem auto 1.9rem;padding:15px;box-sizing:border-box;}@media (min-width:740px){.css-12vbvwq{padding:20px;width:100%;}}.css-12vbvwq:focus{outline:1px solid #e2e2e2;}#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-12vbvwq{border:none;padding:10px 0 0;border-top:2px solid #121212;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-rdoyk0{-webkit-transform:rotate(0deg);-ms-transform:rotate(0deg);transform:rotate(0deg);}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-eb027h{max-height:300px;overflow:hidden;-webkit-transition:none;transition:none;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-5gimkt:after{content:’See more’;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-6mllg9{opacity:1;}.css-qjk116{margin:0 auto;overflow:hidden;}.css-qjk116 strong{font-weight:700;}.css-qjk116 em{font-style:italic;}.css-qjk116 a{color:#326891;-webkit-text-decoration:underline;text-decoration:underline;text-underline-offset:1px;-webkit-text-decoration-thickness:1px;text-decoration-thickness:1px;-webkit-text-decoration-color:#326891;text-decoration-color:#326891;}.css-qjk116 a:visited{color:#326891;-webkit-text-decoration-color:#326891;text-decoration-color:#326891;}.css-qjk116 a:hover{-webkit-text-decoration:none;text-decoration:none;}In a letter to Congress on Monday, Ms. Yellen warned lawmakers that they needed to take action to protect the “full faith and credit of the United States” and said she was already taking steps to stave off a default.Most analysts expect that the drop-dead deadline is sometime before November.Ms. Yellen has been reminding lawmakers who are reluctant to lift the debt limit that doing so does not authorize future spending; it merely allows the government to pay for expenditures that Congress has already enacted. That includes Mr. Trump’s $1.5 trillion tax cut.Mr. McConnell has threatened to withhold all Republican votes from a debt ceiling increase, a stance that Mr. Hollen called “part of a pattern of hypocrisy.” Republicans repeatedly raised the debt ceiling during the Trump years, even after their tax cut. But they have provoked a series of crises when a Democrat is in the White House.Even some conservatives say Republican inconsistency is undermining the party’s case for fiscal rectitude.“Republicans would have much more credibility on the debt ceiling argument if they weren’t about to vote to add hundreds of billions of dollars to the deficit” on the infrastructure bill, said Brian Riedl, a senior fellow at the conservative Manhattan Institute and a former economic aide to Mr. Portman.Democrats have a decision to make in the next few days. They could add an increase in the debt ceiling to their upcoming budget resolution, ensuring that the borrowing limit could be raised without the need for any Republican votes this fall. But that option would come with political costs: to do it, Senate rules require that the provision includes a hard number for the debt ceiling increase, like $10 trillion, which Republicans would say, inaccurately, is the true cost of the social policy bill.That is very much what Republicans want.“I think the majority has to solve this — they control the House and the Senate and the White House,” Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri, a member of Republican leadership, told reporters this week.If the debt ceiling is instead raised through a separate measure, the bill could simply set a date for the next debt ceiling increase, without a dollar number. But that would take Republican votes in the Senate to break a filibuster, votes Mr. McConnell has said he will not supply.Republicans have argued that debt ceiling showdowns have long been used to force a reluctant Congress to examine the structural issues that drive up debt. The debt ceiling crisis of 2011 forced both parties to accept the Budget Control Act, which reined in spending for nearly a decade, until it lapsed under Mr. Trump.“You can’t keep increasing the debt limit over and over again without some kind of reform that starts to address the fundamental issue, and that is deficit spending that goes out as far as we can see,” Senator Steve Daines, Republican of Montana, told Punchbowl News.That argument has Democrats livid, because the debt increase they must address was largely incurred through spending by Republicans.“This is Trump tax cut debt and Covid debt,” Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, said. “The United States will pay its bills.”Jeanna Smialek More