Infrastructure Crumbles While Politicians Fight

Blog #84- 10/3/21

Richard Davis

It’s the same old game. One side doesn’t like what the other side is proposing so they will block every attempt to pass the other party’s legislation. The difference this time is that the entire country’s infrastructure hangs in the balance.

Even Washington politicians of all parties know that this country lags behind most of the industrialized world in keeping bridges, roads, railways, drinking water, internet access and a host of other basic necessities up to an acceptable standard. These issues have been with us for decades and we finally have an administration willing to make the effort to make life better for all Americans.

Everyone knew that such a project was going to cost a lot of money, even in Washington dollars. It started out at around six trillion dollars and the political process has whittled it down to 1.5 trillion. The Democrats want to pay for the plan by taxing the rich and making them pay the fair share that they have not been paying for years.

The Republicans claim every price tag is too high and what they really mean is that they are trying to protect themselves and their rich friends from having to level the American economic field. No matter what happens, the Republicans remain in lock-step opposition to any infrastructure bill offered by Democrats. If Democrats get their entire party to vote for a bill it will pass.

But not all Democrats are on board. As I write this the progressive wing of the Democratic party, that numbers around 100 representatives, is holding out because they feel that too many essential programs are being cut from the bill. They want stronger climate change measures and they want provisions that will support social safety net programs such as expanded Medicare benefits.

Although the progressives say it is not about the money it is clear that the bill would have to have a price tag of about three trillion dollars to do what they want. If they continue to hold out the entire bill could go into the toilet. I suspect that they will eventually find a way to come to some sort of compromise without killing the bill.

According to a White House press release these are the main elements of the bill. “Makes the largest federal investment in public transit ever. Makes the largest federal investment in passenger rail since the creation of Amtrak. Makes the single largest dedicated bridge investment since the construction of the interstate highway system. Makes the largest investment in clean drinking water and waste water infrastructure in American history, delivering clean water to millions of families. Ensures every American has access to reliable high-speed internet.

Helps us tackle the climate crisis by making the largest investment in clean energy transmission and EV infrastructure in history; electrifying thousands of school and transit buses across the country; and creating a new Grid Deployment Authority to build a clean, 21st century electric grid.”

The White House explains the financing this way. “In the years ahead, the deal will generate significant economic benefits. It is financed through a combination of redirecting unspent emergency relief funds, targeted corporate user fees, strengthening tax enforcement when it comes to crypto currencies, and other bipartisan measures, in addition to the revenue generated from higher economic growth as a result of the investments.”

I think that 1.5 trillion is too low a figure for this project based on what I have been reading, but I am no expert in this matter. I do know that when you try to cut the cost of a project too much you end up doing more harm than good and you pay a lot more in the long run.
I wish Washington could settle on a higher figure. If they don’t, I hope the funding they finally settle on will do what it is supposed to do.

Comments | 2

  • Are they fighting, or working something out?

    It’ll be interesting to find out if, in the end, the Democrats are fighting with one another and get nothing for it, or if they are negotiating and will pass something. These seem to be the two media narrative options.

    Hey Richard, what do you think of this: what if Schumer got rid of the filibuster, passed a bunch of stuff, then re-instated the filibuster when he was done? (I think Mitch would be impressed and jealous of this clever trick. : ) )

  • They all are capable of nasty tricks. I would rather se

    They all are capable of nasty tricks. I would rather see an end to the filibuster forever.

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