What problems does West Virginia face?

United Stateswest Virginia needs Joe Bidens Infrastructure package

The state of West Virginia has many problems, reports DLF correspondent Doris Simon. Ailing infrastructure, high unemployment in the second largest coal country in the USA and problems in the health sector. Even a small portion of Joe Biden's planned $ 2.2 trillion infrastructure program could help.

"First of all: West Virginia is an incredibly beautiful state," says the DLF correspondent in Washington, Doris Simon. The state can be reached in a few hours by car from the US capital. But the problems in the second largest coal country in the USA are great.

The greatest challenges for West Virginia in a nutshell:

  • Poverty: People earn an average of $ 30,000 a year, that's a little over 25,000 euros. A very low income by American standards.
  • Unemployment: There aren't enough jobs. The coal industry no longer employs as many people as it did 20 or 30 years ago. There are no alternatives, people have to commute long distances for jobs, sometimes two hours just to get there.
  • Infrastructure: Dilapidated roads and bridges - many areas have no telephone reception and poor internet coverage, also because of the low mountain range.
  • bless you: The drinking water supply is contaminated because of the coal industry. There are many cancers in the area.
  • Overaging: West Virginia is the state with the largest number of Army veterans.

Joe Biden has now announced that it will invest $ 2.2 trillion in improving the infrastructure. The focus of the program is the transition to climate-friendly energy. This could mean an opportunity for the coal state to establish new energy industries and create new jobs. Coal mining in West Virginia is particularly criticized because it blows away mountain peaks and destroys forests.

"Two trillion is an awful lot of money and a little bit of it would be enough to get West Virginia ahead in a lot of things."
Doris Simon, DLF correspondent in Washington

Our correspondent believes that a small fraction of this huge investment package would be enough for West Virginia to tackle the problems. It is not about "Bricks & Mortar", says Doris Simon, so not only about building work for roads, bridges or schools.

Expansion of the care sector and increase in wages

For example, the $ 400 billion that Joe Biden has earmarked for improving care and raising wages in the care industry is important in order to attract more workers to this sector. "That would help the country, but also investments in school buildings," says Doris Simon.

Training against unemployment

Further training measures are also planned, which are particularly important for people who can no longer find jobs in their previous occupations. "That would be a big plus for West Virginia in addition to new bridges, roads and the Internet," summarizes Doris Simon.

West Virginia is a Republican stronghold

Traditionally, people in West Virginia are more likely to vote for the Republican Party, with over 70 percent voting for Donald Trump in the last election. Republicans in Congress are against Joe Biden's infrastructure package. In West Virginia, on the other hand, Republican politicians welcome the package. "Even those at the county level or from the Chamber of Commerce are in favor - and I have not met anyone who would say that I am a Democrat or that I voted for Biden," reports Doris Simon.

"Everyone says: we absolutely need the infrastructure program. We need it so that we can be better in a few years."
Doris Simon, DLF correspondent in Washington

The investment package will be financed by increasing the corporate tax and introducing a minimum tax rate. Before the Trump administration, corporate tax would have been 35 percent, Donald Trump lowered it to 21 percent and Joe Biden now wants to raise the tax rate to 28 percent.

Taxes up on investments

Some companies would even welcome this corporate income tax hike if they invested in state infrastructure in return. The correspondent also spoke to people who would like a minimum tax rate. Because if the companies that earn more than two billion US dollars a year - 45 last year it was 45 - had to pay a minimum tax of 15 percent, a lot of money would flow into the treasury.

So far, these companies have paid very little or no taxes. "And there we are for it, also as Republicans," Doris Simon quotes her interlocutor.

Biden wants to push the package through

The correspondent believes Joe Biden will get the package through in Congress. He shows great determination to push it through against the Republicans. She assumes that Joe Biden will use the budget reconciliation process again. His next step will be to get all Democratic MPs and senators on his line. That could take some time, because everyone is trying to get advantages for their constituencies.

Then Joe Biden will vote for Vice President Kamala Harris in the Senate and push through the program with a wafer-thin majority of 51 votes, she predicts.