Reviews | How infrastructure week ended up going

Thirteen Republican members of the House voted for the infrastructure bill which is now heading to President Biden’s office. It may not seem like much, but given the intensity of GOP partisanship – the loser in the New Jersey governor’s race still has not conceded – to get even so many Republicans to support an initiative that could help Mr. Biden is incredible.

These votes suggest that politicians believe what the poll indicates – that repairing roads and bridges, expanding broadband and more are extremely popular and that opposing the bill would be politically costly. (Six Progressive Democrats voted against the legislation, but Nancy Pelosi, who said she had a “secret whip account,”Could have gotten some of those votes if she had needed them.)

But if infrastructure spending is a political winner, why hasn’t it happened under Donald Trump? The Trump administration first declared Infrastructure Week in June 2017, but no legislative proposal ever materialized, and by the time Trump was removed from office, the phrase had become a punchline. national. Why?

It wasn’t just incompetence, although that was part of it. The bigger story is that the modern Republican Party is constitutionally incapable – or perhaps, given its recent behavior, which should be unconstitutionally incapable – of investing in America’s future. And, sad to say, pro-business Democrats, who we really should stop calling “centrist”, have some of the same issues.

Trump talked a lot about infrastructure during the 2016 election campaign. But the “plan” published by his advisers – it was really just a sketch – was a mess. It wasn’t even really a public investment proposal; to a large extent, this was an exercise in crony capitalism, a taxpayer-subsidized private investment scheme which, like the “opportunity zones” that were part of the tax cut of 2017, would have mostly ended up raining on the wealthy developers. It was also completely impractical.

If Trump had wanted to accomplish anything real, he should have turned to people who had a sense of what they were doing, who at least knew how to write legislation. But he was unwilling to work with Democrats – and top Republicans in Congress, Mitch McConnell in particular, have opposed large investments in infrastructure every step of the way.

Why this opposition? Much of it was about how to pay for additional expenses. Republicans were, of course, opposed to new taxes, especially on corporations and the wealthy; they also claimed to be against others government loan.

But the first rule of deficit policy is that nobody really cares on deficits. Republicans certainly didn’t care when they hit a $ 1.9 trillion in tax cuts without any compensatory cost savings. The handful of Democrats who still balk at Biden’s Build Back Better plan, which would invest in people in addition to steel and concrete, delayed the vote by demanding a cost estimate from the Congressional Budget Office. But they don’t seem to be concerned that the physical infrastructure bill is partly paid with smoke and mirrors and that the CBO estimates that it will add hundreds of billions to the deficit.

However, many economists today believe that, given low interest rates, we shouldn’t worry on deficits. But that doesn’t stop politicians from selectively invoking deficit fears as a way to block government programs they don’t like.

In the case of traditional Republicans, that essentially means opposing anything other than military spending. Everything else is “socialism,” which on the right has come to mean spending money in any way to help ordinary citizens.

Indeed, it is quite clear that what the Conservatives fear is not that new government programs will fail; they fear that the programs will be seen as successful and that they will help legitimize a broader role for government in solving social problems.

That is, they fear that government programs that actually help people can turn us into “nation of takers”- maybe even a nation that taxes the rich to pay for aid to those in need.

Given this attitude, the only way Trump could have gotten an infrastructure bill would have been to bypass much of his own party and work with the Democrats. But like I said, he was not prepared to do it.

Sadly, the handful of Democrats who could still kill Build Back Better seem to share Republicans’ reluctance to invest in the future, albeit in a softer form. They are willing to spend on infrastructure, even with borrowed money. But they are wary of social spending, even though there is strong evidence that such spending greatly help the economy (not to mention their own constituents). Why? Well Joe Manchin says he’s worried we’re becoming a “law society. “

At this point, however, engaging in this absurdity would have enormous political and human costs. Biden’s ability to finally get the infrastructure bill that has eluded Trump for four years is a lesson in what can be achieved if we sideline ideologues and crony capitalists. Now Democrats should finish the job.

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