Biden "Infrastructure" Plan Shatters Bipartisan Tradition
- The United States faces significant challenges in water and transportation infrastructure − areas where the federal government has traditionally focused its limited resources.
- Congress has historically passed bipartisan legislation to improve our nation’s infrastructure; it should build on this history to address the country’s most critical needs.
- Instead, Democrats are pushing a partisan, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink spending bill paid for with massive tax increases on America’s job creators.
The United States faces significant challenges in water and transportation infrastructure − areas where the federal government has traditionally focused its limited resources. In response, President Joe Biden unveiled a more than $2 trillion proposal that resembles an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach to federal spending more than it does a traditional infrastructure bill. Less than 6% of the total funding is allocated for roads and bridges, and the plan is littered with Democrats’ pet policies like creating a “civilian climate corps” and rewarding their labor union allies. The largest line item in the proposal is at least $400 billion in Medicaid funds to expand home and community-based services, a policy conversation well beyond the scope of infrastructure. Democrats plan to pay for this package with massive tax hikes on America’s job creators.
Infrastructure in the United States is in constant need of maintenance and replacement, which is balanced with a persistent demand for new construction to address continued growth. There has long been bipartisan interest in tackling this challenge and setting priorities for federal spending. Unfortunately, at a time of record spending and soaring deficits, President Biden and Democrats in Congress are already signaling they have no interest in working with Republicans.
Recent Infrastructure Spending
Debates around federal infrastructure investment have generally centered on resource allocation – like the states’ share of funding – and resource constraints – ensuring there is enough money to pay for the projects. Despite the challenge of balancing competing priorities, Congress has a history of passing bipartisan infrastructure laws. While it can be difficult to compare them directly, as they provided authorizations for different lengths of time, a look at multi-year infrastructure legislation passed over the last few decades provides some helpful context.
2000: The Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century (AIR21) passed by a vote of 82-17 and increased Airport Improvement Program funding from $1.9 to $3.4 billion by fiscal year 2003.
Recent Infrastructure Authorizations vs. Biden “Infrastructure” Plan
The Senate continued this bipartisan tradition as recently as earlier this month when the Committee on Environment and Public Works unanimously passed the Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act. This bill seeks to authorize approximately $35 billion for programs supporting clean and drinking water projects. Previously, in July 2019, the EPW Committee unanimously passed the America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act. The five-year bill would have authorized $287 billion for our nation’s federal-aid highway programs.
There’s no need to go down a partisan path to enact trillions of dollars in new spending. Instead, Democrats should build on recent successes such as the FAST Act and the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 and work with Republicans to invest in our transportation systems before those laws’ authorizations expire.
a needlessly partisan agenda
In an act of radical partisanship, President Biden has proposed paying for his spending wish list with massive tax increases on America’s job creators. Their plan would raise taxes on American businesses, increasing the cost of production in the United States and putting our country at a disadvantage to their international competitors just as they are trying to rebound from the pandemic-related economic shutdowns.
The president’s proposal, totaling more than $2 trillion, is half the size of all federal spending in fiscal year 2019. It is four times the cost of building the national interstate highway system. To pay for this boondoggle, he has proposed a $2 trillion tax increase − in the middle of an economic recovery – that is more focused on liberal tax preferences than it is on strengthening American companies and workers.
Despite sanctimonious calls for unity and bipartisanship, Democrats have so far pushed only a hyper-partisan big government agenda. This power grab is unnecessary. Congress has worked in a bipartisan way to bolster our nation’s infrastructure. Democrats could join with Republicans to focus on the most pressing needs in the areas where the federal government has previously concentrated its limited resources. The results would be much better for all Americans.
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