President Biden is selling his American Jobs Plan as an upgrade of the nation’s infrastructure. But most of its spending goes nowhere near infrastructure.
The White House admits only around 5%, or $115 billion, goes to roads and bridges, while Politico reports that the World Economic Forum’s definition of infrastructure, which Mr. Biden cites—roads, mass transit, ports, airports, electricity grids and broadband—covers 37% of the proposal’s $2.3 trillion in outlays.
The other roughly $1.4 trillion includes $100 billion to upgrade and build schools, $174 billion to support electric-car production, $213 billion for public housing, $580 billion for manufacturing initiatives and so forth.
Mr. Biden claims his package is paid for, but that’s deceptive. He’d spend the money in eight years but pay for it with higher taxes over 15 years. And who believes the spending will go away after eight years? They’ll likely become fixtures of the budget, adding year after year to the national debt, already $28 trillion, or more than $85,000 for every American.The president says he hopes the GOP falls into line behind his initiative. Congressional Republicans told him Monday his plan spends way too much and they have no appetite for undoing the 2017 tax cuts, which made U.S. companies more competitive and workers richer by bringing America’s business taxes down to the level of other countries. They’re also concerned Mr. Biden’s death-tax provisions, stepped-up basis for capital gains and higher individual tax rates will hammer small businesses and family farms and ranches.
The president says he hopes the GOP falls into line behind his initiative. Congressional Republicans told him Monday his plan spends way too much and they have no appetite for undoing the 2017 tax cuts, which made U.S. companies more competitive and workers richer by bringing America’s business taxes down to the level of other countries. They’re also concerned Mr. Biden’s death-tax provisions, stepped-up basis for capital gains and higher individual tax rates will hammer small businesses and family farms and ranches.
If Mr. Biden genuinely wants bipartisanship—and on Monday he said he was “prepared to negotiate”—he can show it by agreeing to traditional infrastructure spending paid for with unspent Covid-19 money and other sources Republicans can accept. It could be bundled into a bill and passed with huge bipartisan margins in both chambers.
Democrats could then try passing the rest of his package (including the tax increases) using reconciliation so they could contest the midterms by claiming credit for all the second measure’s spending, made possible only with Democratic votes. But the White House doesn’t want Republicans to get any credit for helping pass an actual infrastructure bill. And while Democrats claim the AJP polls well among Republicans and independents, that support would fade if voters see it as a windfall for the left’s favorite causes and payola to the Democratic Party’s base.
Ten billion dollars for a Civilian Climate Corps that’ll employ every Greta Thunberg wannabe under the banner of “infrastructure spending” won’t go over well. Nor will spending $400 billion for elder-care services, something demanded by the Service Employees International Union, which endorsed Mr. Biden in the primaries. We love grandma and grandpa, but they’re not infrastructure. And then there are tax increases, especially those paid by small business. For these, the White House especially wants Republicans to share the blame.
That’s because Democrats are in a fragile place, with a 50-50 Senate and a slender 218-212 House majority. Vulnerable Democratic Senate incumbents in Arizona, Georgia, Nevada and New Hampshire might have difficulty explaining all this spending; the same is true of Democratic candidates for Republican seats in North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. The seven Democratic representatives from Trump districts and 13 other Democrats who won by less than 4% may also find it hard to defend this spending junk pile and its accompanying mountain of tax increases.
Maybe Mr. Biden meant it when he promised in his inaugural address to “restore the soul” of America through “unity.” But so far he’s proving to be America’s most profligate and partisan president ever.
In response to reader emails, two clarifications about last week’s column. New Jersey didn’t have in-person early voting last year but will this fall, though with fewer days of voting than Georgia. In addition, while the U.S. Vote Foundation says Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota and Wisconsin don’t offer early voting, they have “in-person absentee voting,” in which voters go to local election offices to pick up, complete and hand back their absentee ballot. Most of these states provide fewer days and fewer locations than Georgia does for its in-person early voting.