The give and take of the democratic process often makes it feel as if Washington is doing nothing to address the major problems facing our communities and country. But while there is always much work to be done, President Joe Biden is providing the leadership that is moving us forward during a most difficult time of political polarization.
President Biden and our Democratic representatives in Congress are delivering for Hoosiers.
For example, on March 11, less than two months after taking office, President Biden signed into law the American Rescue Plan. U.S. Reps. André Carson and Frank Mrvan both supported this legislation that has had a significant positive impact right here in Indiana.
Getting people vaccinated so we can stop the spread of COVID-19 has been a top priority for the president. The ARP provided funding for administering the vaccine and about half of all Hoosiers are now fully vaccinated. We need to expand outreach that will provide additional information to those who have safety concerns about the vaccines, but thanks to the American Rescue Plan, we have made progress.
The rescue plan also provided $250 million for broadband improvements across Indiana. More than one in 10 Hoosiers live in areas that lack broadband infrastructure and almost half live in an area with only one internet provider. Access to affordable high-speed internet service is critical to businesses, including Indiana’s ag community, and to Hoosier families—and this $250 million investment is making a difference in communities throughout Indiana.
For the first time in more than a decade, because of the ARP, public schools in Indiana are fully funded and teachers have received a well-earned pay raise. Public education is critical to our children’s, our state’s and our nation’s future, and we have been able to provide resources that will ensure a brighter future for all of us.
There is more to do. Investing wisely in our people, our communities and our country makes us stronger, and that is why Congress passed the bipartisan infrastructure bill and must support the Build Back Better agenda. We have the largest economy and the most productive workforce in the world—but we are slipping, and we have challenges that must be addressed to get us back on track.
Our infrastructure was once ranked No. 1 globally, but now we are ranked 13th by the World Economic Forum. Indiana has 1,111 bridges that need major repair; we have 5,478 miles of roads in poor condition; and we need to replace every lead pipe in the state.
We also once led the world in educational achievement. Today, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, our investment in early childhood education ranks 35th out of 37 major countries. The infrastructure bill and the Build Back Better agenda will address these problems, as well as many others.
President Biden is a leader who understands the legislative process and who also understands the importance of compromise. Democracy is not about each one of us getting our way, but rather, is about working collectively to find our way forward together.
President Biden is showing us a fair and fiscally responsible way forward. He has delivered for Hoosiers, and it is now time for us to show support for his leadership in getting our country back on track.•
Thompson is a former member of the U.S. House and former board chair and CEO of the Farm Credit Administration. She is the author of “The Character of American Democracy.”