The White House announced a new $42 billion investment in high-speed internet access Monday as part of its “Bidenomics” campaign to promote the president’s economic policies as he kicks off his 2024 re-election bid.
The Biden Administration will divide the money between all 50 states, U.S. territories and D.C. over the next two years, with the goal of providing high-speed broadband access to all Americans by 2030.
The program will target underserved areas, often rural communities, where Internet providers have been reluctant to invest in expensive projects to serve a small number of people.
Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are expected to detail the investment, which stems from the bipartisan infrastructure law the president signed in 2021, in remarks at 11:45 a.m. Monday.
States will be required to submit bids by the end of the year detailing how they would use the money to connect unserved areas and improve Internet access in jurisdictions with poor connectivity.
The White House has sought to compare the program to the Rural Electrification Act of 1936, when the federal government provided loans to electric power cooperatives to expand electricity access to the entire country.
The announcement is part of a broader push by the Biden Administration, dubbed “Bidenomics,” to tout his economic policies as he kicks off his 2024 re-election campaign—a White House memo sent to reporters Monday promotes a narrative that Biden’s middle class-centric policies have allowed the U.S. to recover stronger from the pandemic compared to other world economic leaders and accuses Republicans of “failed trickle-down policies” such as tax breaks for large corporations and the wealthy.
“We all know how difficult life is when electricity goes down after a storm or for other reasons,” White House Chief of Staff Jeff Zients told reporters Friday about the investment. “For millions of Americans in rural communities in particular, the internet is down a lot. Sometimes there’s not even any access.”
8.5 million. That’s the number of homes, businesses and other locations in the U.S. without Internet or low-performing connections, according to federal government estimates.
What To Watch For
Biden is scheduled to deliver a major economic speech Wednesday in Chicago, where he will also attend a fundraiser for his 2024 re-election campaign hosted by the state’s Democratic governor, J.B. Pritzker.
Biden kicks off his re-election campaign as record-high inflation and recession fears have loomed over his tenure and dented his approval rating. Just 38% of Americans approve of the way he is doing his job and even less, 31%, approve of his handling of the economy, according to a May Associated Press-NORC poll. The “Bidenomics” pitch argues that the president’s policies have led the U.S. to have “the strongest recovery of any major economy in the world” and points to better-than-expected job growth and private-sector manufacturing investments. The narrative also highlights new infrastructure projects and lower prescription drug costs under Biden. The Monday White House memo takes a direct shot at former President Donald Trump, noting that the share of working-age Americans who are employed is higher than at any point in the last 15 years and “higher than any day under President Trump.”
Biden to announce $42 billion to expand high-speed internet access (Washington Post)
Biden will announce how billions of dollars for expanding broadband internet are being distributed (Associated Press)
Biden to deliver major economic address in Chicago next week (Reuters)