When Joe Biden released his wish list infrastructure bill, it included $2.3 trillion in new spending. While that figure is huge, and really a budget buster, it wasn’t the problem. The main problem came in as to how Biden was defining the word “infrastructure”. And while the House of Representatives would pass anything sent to it from the White House, pretty much along party lines, the Senate is a different story.
Republicans have been meeting with Biden, telling him that $2.3 trillions wasn’t going to fly. Especially when only 5% of the spending was going to go toward actual infrastructure spending. You know…things like roads, bridges, airports, that sort of thing? Biden’s original plan had all sorts of stuff that ranged from Green New Deal efforts, to union kickbacks, and “jobs creation” that ballooned the figure beyond reason.
After the first few meetings, Biden’s team dropped the cost from $2.3 trillion down to $1.7 trillion. But it still had a huge amount of what was considered by many to be bloated pig fat. There were paybacks to Democrat cities who were near bankruptcy, there was all sorts of pork involving climate change spending, and just a little bit left over for what would be considered true “infrastructure”. The GOP still balked at that.
Republicans went ahead and proposed their own plan which was along the lines of between $500-600 billion. That left off all of the climate change, union kickback, and jobs creation stuff. Arguing that right now the problem isn’t jobs creation…there are so many unfilled jobs out there right now it doesn’t make sense. The problem is, after being paid not to work for a year, a lot of lower wage Americans want to continue down that road and don’t want to go back to work (apparently Oprah IS that exciting???). That figure didn’t fly with Biden.
So, the GOP is back again. They upped the ante to about $1 trillion utilizing already passed COVID relief money that doesn’t seem to be needed any longer. And they threw a few monkey wrenches at Biden as well. They kept the Trump tax cuts of 2017 in place. The Republican plan would focus more on actual infrastructure as is normally defined, cutting out a lot of fat…over 50% of the original Biden plan.
Biden now has a choice. He had a “target date” of Monday to get the deal done. But the two sides are still very far apart, and it doesn’t appear that they will get to the point that the bill will actually get passed by Monday, unless there is a miracle. And while miracles don’t usually happen in DC, they can get some things eventually done. This would be one example of Biden holding up a campaign promise of working across the aisle to achieve bi-partisan agreement.
What Biden seems to have failed to learn in 47 years in DC is something very simple…and something Democrats are expert at. It’s called incrementalism. Don’t go for the major bill that’s 10,000 pages long. Pass something small now, and add to it up the road in small chunks. I always liken it to the seat belt laws that are basically in place pretty much everywhere. When automakers started putting seat belts in cars back in the 1960’s, they weren’t used very much. People hated the lack of mobility. Then they passed a law that said you had to have a seat belt on, but police couldn’t stop you for that. It had to be for another type of violation. That went away and voila! Seat belts are now law pretty much everywhere. I think New Hampshire is the only state that doesn’t require you as an adult, to wear a seat belt.
Will there be an infrastructure bill this term? Yeah, probably. And yes, our kids and grandkids will be paying the price for neglecting our infrastructure over the decades. But at least it will have more to do with actual infrastructure, and less to do with climate change and jobs!
Carry on world…you’re dismissed!