Infrastructure: The Biden bait and switch agenda continues apace before a giddy media

CNN declares it the “triumphant return of government.”  In other words, billions for everyone, except not even half of the supposed infrastructure bill is actually spent on infrastructure.  Yes, another multi-trillion dollar scam sold under completely false pretenses.  This is moderate, unifying leadership?

There are few things the right and left agree upon more than the need to make investments in our infrastructure.  From airports to bridges to power grids, it’s obvious the United States could use a targeted, value-added overhaul that would ultimately benefit the economy, in the short term by creating the construction jobs and in the long term by improving the speed of commerce and transportation, plus the reliability of critical items like the electric grid.

Some, like myself, doubt the federal government’s ability to manage and deliver on such a program, but that’s a story for another time.  For now, let’s just agree there is both a need and desire to invest in America.  It’s also the rare, real opportunity for a truly bipartisan bill, something both Democrats and Republicans can be proud of passing, both parties claiming victory on behalf of the American people.

Unfortunately, President Joe Biden has now officially declared that he doesn’t see it that way and has absolutely no interest in anything resembling bipartisanship, or even honesty related to his purported goals.  No, he has much bigger, more progressive objectives than simply roads, bridges, and other infrastructure, hence his new infrastructure plan is part huge tax hike and part social justice with a sprinkling of actually building stuff on the side.

In fact, only about 50% of the proposed bill is actually spent on infrastructure.  Even the full amount of the bill remains a mystery, with most sources citing $2 trillion, others as high as $2.5 trillion.  Either way, the “infrastructure” plan includes only $621 billion, a measly 31% if you use the $2 trillion total for total, for actual roads, bridges, rails, airports and vehicles.  Even that is deceiving because only $115 billion is actually spent on real roads and bridges, $25 billion on airports, and $17 billion on sea ports.  The rest is for who knows what.  The electric grid gets $100 billion and public schools another $100 billion, both of which might classify as infrastructure, putting the total spending on actual infrastructure projects at about 41% of the bill.

The remainder is a confusing, convoluted grab bag of liberal pet projects, most of which have absolutely nothing to do with what any rational person normally considers infrastructure or even as the word “infrastructure” has generally been used in these discussions for decades.  There’s $213 billion for retrofitting homes and building affordable housing, and $111 billion for lead pipes, meaning they are spending more on homes and pipes than our ancient electric grid.

Even this pales in comparison to what they’re spending on completely non-infrastructure related projects.

The second biggest line item in the bill is, in fact, expanding access to affordable care for the elderly and disabled at a whopping $400 billion, 20% of the total spending.  While this might be a noble cause, it has absolutely nothing to do with infrastructure by any means.  According to USA Today, “In one of the plan’s most expensive programs, Biden proposed $400 billion to expand access to affordable care for the elderly and disabled. This would involve aid to Americans to obtain services they need but lack, and expand the care workforce, including a pay boost for care workers. The majority are women of color and earn about $12 an hour.   Biden proposed expanding access to long-term care services under Medicaid and increasing pay through the same federal program.”

Biden says, “For too long, caregivers, who are disproportionately women, women of color and immigrants, have been unseen, underpaid and undervalued.”  Again, that may be true, but what’s that got to do with the price of airports?

It gets better, $180 billion, almost 10% of the bill, goes to “research and development in technology and climate science.”  There’s $50 billion for the National Science Foundation, $40 billion for research labs, $35 billion for technology to combat climate change, and $10 billion for black colleges, none of which will be spent on infrastructure.  “We’ve fallen back,” Biden claimed. “The rest of the world is closing in and closing in fast. We can’t allow this to continue.”

Wait, did we fall back or are we still ahead, just not as far ahead as he would like?  As usual, Biden is unclear to the point of not making any sense.  He continues, “Critics say we shouldn’t spend this money. They ask, ‘What do we get out of this?’ Well, they said the same thing when we flew into space for the first time.” 

Of course, the United States already invests trillions in research and development.  The government alone forks over $123 billion a year while US companies are spending close to $400 billion.  This is money spent every single year, but, sure, Biden’s extra $25 billion per annum over 7 years is going to take us into the future.  In reality, everyone knows this money will serve as nothing more than another government slush fund for favored groups, and these investments will surely disappear without a trace.

Finally, we get to $300 billion for “manufacturing.”  What are we going to do with money?

The plan is to start with $50 billion for a new federal office that will, according to USA Today, “monitor domestic industrial capacity and the production of critical goods,” because, surely, another federal office in the endless alphabet soup of the government is going to win the future.  There’s also $46 billion in federal purchasing power for “clean energy manufacturing,” again as if the government isn’t already purchasing billions upon billions per year, $30 billion for jobs “focused on the nation’s preparedness for pandemics,” whatever that even means, and $20 billion for “regional innovation hubs” to spur technology development, because you know the hottest companies in the world are still in the horse and buggy business.

“I’m convinced that if we act now, that in 50 years, people will look back and say this was when America won the future,” Biden declared.  This would be laughable if he wasn’t deadly serious; we’ve spent somewhere in the realm of $5 trillion on stimulus since the pandemic began, billions for everyone, and now we need $2 trillion more.

He’s also seriously claiming this monstrosity of a spending program will be fully paid for in 15 years.  How?  Well, he also plans the largest tax increase in decades.  Steven M. Rosenthal, a senior fellow at the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, told RealClearPolitics, “The Biden tax increases would be the largest we have seen in decades going back to FDR days. We need large tax increases to pay for the ambitious infrastructure spending that he contemplates.”

The tax increases are huge however you look at it:  Corporate tax rates would go up 33%, from 21% to 28%, in addition to limiting deductions and enforcing a global minimum tax.  Even worse, he wants to do this while key industries, travel, leisure, hospitality, etc., are still reeling from the never-ending lockdowns.  So, if you own a restaurant or other small business and are just getting back to business after the most challenging year in recent memory, you’ll be forking over an extra 33%.

To put this in perspective:  Even former President Barack Obama, as liberal as he was, wasn’t stupid enough to jack up taxes by a third in the middle of an economic crisis.  Once upon a time, we all agreed that it was a bad idea to take money out of the economy during a recession, but now here comes Joe Biden to completely rewrite the script.

The media, of course, is loving every minute of it, piling on accolades as if this wasn’t the biggest bait and switch since Biden’s last bill.  According to CNN’s resident Biden bootlicker, Stephen Collinson, “For Biden, infrastructure is about far more than fixing America’s creaking and crumbling roads and bridges, airports and railroads that are often compared unfavorably to gleaming 21st century projects in developing countries like China. The program is the latest massively ambitious sign that he senses that fate, political circumstance and shifts in public opinion offer him a sudden but fleeting opening to accomplish his long-term political aim of improving the lives of American workers.”

Yes, infrastructure is no longer about infrastructure, who knew?  When was the last time we heard that?  Well, it was also in March when the coronavirus relief bill magically transformed into the largest anti-poverty program since the Great Society in the 1960s.  It’s a classic scam of course, say your goal is one thing while doing something completely different, but don’t tell Mr. Collinson, he thinks this is awesome.  “While Biden’s $1.9 trillion Covid relief plan, the infrastructure effort and a coming jobs bill ostensibly address targeted policy areas, they have a broader common purpose. They form the foundation of the President’s effort to engineer a generational reorganization of the US economy itself.”

A generational reorganization of the economy itself, otherwise known as the Great Reset, again, who knew?  Where was this on the campaign trail?  Don’t worry though, Biden sees it all.  “Biden’s vision now is not just for new highways, broadband and ports. He sees revived labor unions, equally shared GDP growth, easier access to health care, equal pay for women, clean energy and better child care for workers.”

Wow, that’s amazing.  Biden’s going to do all that by spending trillions of dollars?  Mr. Collinson’s colleague, Chris Cillizza is equally giddy, declaring that the “era of big government is back with a vengeance.”  “Taken together, that almost $4 trillion in either real or proposed government spending put forward by Biden in the space of a month. That is a remarkable thing to ponder — and evidence that Biden’s presidency, if he can manage to shepherd the infrastructure plane to passage, will signal the triumphant return of the government (and government spending) into peoples’ lives.”

The triumphant return of government?  Need I say more?

Of course, no one has bothered to say the obvious:  If it was that easy, we would have already written the check.  Alas, this isn’t the last check Biden plans to write.  Next month is another massive spending program, this time ostensibly on jobs, but don’t be surprised if there’s another bait and switch.  The only thing that will be surprising is if the media doesn’t get down on their hands and knees and claim it’s pure genius.

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