The infrastructure bill pushed by President Biden and Senate Democrats apparently rewards states with more immigrants, offering them federal money based on the number of “covered populations” proportional to the total number of people of “covered populations” in all eligible states.
Included in the bill, the Digital Equity Act would permit the Department of Commerce to create a grant program funding broadband expansion. “25 percent of the total grant amount shall be based on the number of individuals in the eligible State who are members of covered populations in proportion to the total number of individuals in all eligible States who are members of covered populations,” Breitbart noted.
Breitbart added, “Those considered part of the ‘covered populations’ that a state’s grant money would be tied to — depending on how large this group is — newly arrived immigrants to the U.S. who speak little-to-no English.”
The Digital Equity Act describes “covered populations” in this way: “individuals who live in covered households; aging individuals; incarcerated individuals, other than individuals who are incarcerated in a federal correctional facility; veterans; individuals with disabilities; individuals with a language barrier, including individuals who— are English learners; have low levels of literacy; individuals who are members of a racial or ethnic minority group; and individuals who primarily reside in a rural area.”
The Digital Equity Act adds, “A State that wishes to be awarded a grant under subsection (d) shall develop a State Digital Equity Plan for the State, which shall include— the identification of the barriers to digital equity faced by covered populations in the State.”
“Red states and counties such as North Dakota, Idaho, South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Arkansas, Missouri, South Carolina, Nebraska, Kansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, West Virginia, and Kentucky would lose out on such funds to expand broadband potentially because none have significant foreign-born populations,” Breitbart pointed out.
The National Digital Inclusion Alliance is urging allocations for the Digital Equity Fund to be tripled, writing:
The original bill totaled $1.25 billion for implementing the Digital Equity Act but should be increased to $5 billion to support local and state planning and programs. Without trusted local and state intervention, broadband adoption rates will remain low. As outlined in both the LIFT America Act and the Accessible, Affordable Internet for All Act, at a minimum, $15 billion should be dedicated to continuing the Emergency Broadband Benefit program.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the infrastructure bill’s capacity to increase economic growth will not have a salutary effect for years:
The short-term boost to growth will be relatively limited for two reasons, economists say. For one, the bill represents just $550 billion in new spending—compared with nearly $6 trillion that Congress has approved in the past year-and-a-half to battle the Covid-19 pandemic and its economic fallout. Second, the infrastructure spending will take place over five to 10 years starting in 2022, a longer timeline than pandemic-era initiatives like stimulus checks, extra unemployment benefits and small-business support programs. That will make its direct effects on employment and demand less noticeable. …
The CBO expects economic growth to slow from 7.4% in 2021, a year of rapid post-Covid recovery, to 3.1% in 2022 and 1.1% in 2023, as measured from the end of the fourth quarter to the same period the year before. The projections don’t include possible effects of the infrastructure bill.