The American Jobs Plan, Analyzed

April 2, 2021

A powerful vision and the fight for more.

The Roosevelt Rundown is an email series featuring the Roosevelt Institute’s top stories of the week.

The Scale and Structure of the American Jobs Plan

The American Jobs Plan—the $2.3 trillion infrastructure proposal unveiled by the Biden administration this week—is “not a plan that tinkers around the edges,” as the president said Wednesday. 

In tone and approach, that’s already a positive shift: an acknowledgment that generations of public underinvestment and needlessly prolonged joblessness are neither inevitable nor acceptable, as Roosevelt experts have said during this pandemic and in the decade after the Great Recession.

But more is possible, and necessary. 

“As in any big economic package, we must focus on both the scale and structure of funding—how much we’re spending, how we’re spending the money, and who’s deciding where and how to spend it,” Roosevelt President & CEO Felicia Wong writes in an analysis of the plan. 

In its structure, she argues, the AJP is particularly strong in its commitments to care work and worker empowerment and in its potential for virtuous feedback loops.

But the plan’s scale still falls far short of our economic and climate needs, she writes—about one-third of the $10 trillion we should be spending per year over 10 years to decarbonize the economy.

“So, two cheers for a huge step forward—a vision worth fighting for, and a big down payment,” Wong writes. “For now, we’re reserving our third cheer, since the federal government will need to make regular, necessary investments beyond this overdue down payment.”

Another pillar of the American Jobs Plan: corporate tax increases. As the Roosevelt Institute, the Groundwork Collaborative, the Center for American Progress, the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, and the Economic Policy Institute write in a joint statement, “robust taxation of corporations and the wealthy can directly counter damaging inequality, rebalance power in our economy, and increase the competitiveness of American workers.” Read on.


How to Implement a Wealth Tax

“One of the ironic advantages of having a society with as much distortion inequality as we have is that we can raise a lot of revenue by taxing only those with incomes over $400,000 and corporations,” says Roosevelt Chief Economist Joseph Stiglitz.

Taxing wealth is another viable—and popular—option.

A tax on the wealth of multimillionaires and billionaires would be fair, just, and effective, reducing racial wealth gaps and restoring equity to our tax system. 

It’s constitutional, as David Gamage, Ari Glogower, and Roosevelt Fellow Kitty Richards explained earlier this year. 

And it’s no more challenging to design and implement than an income tax, as they write in a new report. Learn more in How to Measure and Value Wealth for a Federal Wealth Tax Reform.


How to Achieve a Climate-Forward Recovery

This Wednesday, April 7, 2021, at 3:00 PM ET, join us to learn more about what the Biden-Harris administration’s economic and infrastructure plans mean for climate change and environmental justice. What does a climate-forward economy look like, and how can we achieve it?


  • Rhiana Gunn-Wright, Roosevelt Institute Director of Climate Policy

Featured speakers:

  • Brandon Hurlbut, Co-Founder of Boundary Stone Partners and former Obama administration US Department of Energy Chief of Staff 
  • Lenore Palladino, Roosevelt Institute Fellow and Assistant Professor of Economics and Public Policy at UMass Amherst
  • John Washington, People’s Action Organizer and Political Educator 

Register now.


What We’re Reading

Full Employment Is Not Enough to Support Black Women [by Roosevelt’s Suzanne Kahn]Ms. Magazine

Evanston, Ill., Approved “Reparations.” Except It Isn’t Reparations. [co-authored by Roosevelt’s William “Sandy” Darity Jr.]Washington Post

Biden Is Facing a Roosevelt Moment [by Roosevelt board member Katrina vanden Heuvel] – Washington Post

Biden’s New Deal and the Future of Human CapitalThe New Yorker

Biden’s Spending Plans Could Remake the Economy, Says Nobel Prize Winner Stiglitz – Axios