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Congress Should Find Cuts to Fund Infrastructure, Not Higher Taxes

Republicans and Democrats agree Congress needs to pass a transportation bill focused on roads and bridges. President Biden’s problematic transportation bill, as it’s advertised, falls short of what America needs. Most importantly the Biden plan is focused on pleasing left-wing activists rather than average Americans.

Biden’s plan does not spend enough on infrastructure. According to the New York Post, Biden has more cash for unions than roads and bridges. The biggest expenditure — a $400 billion Medicaid program for home and community-based services — has little to do with building infrastructure. As Russ Vought, former Trump Office of Management and Budget Director, explained on the Brian Kilmeade Show, roughly 5% to 7% of the spending in the Biden plan is on traditional infrastructure like roads, bridges, ports — things most people would consider real infrastructure. As the federal debt skyrockets and burdens already struggling families, the American people are not thrilled.

Unfortunately, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) has found a way to avoid a filibuster and ram through this massive spending bill. The Hill reported on April 6, 2021 “a decision by the Senate parliamentarian to allow Democrats to advance multiple reconciliation packages this year is a game-changer that gives Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) multiple paths to advance President Biden’s agenda.” The Biden $2.25 trillion “Build Back Better” infrastructure package is Democrats’ next way to have a second massive spending bill to fund their “woke” agenda. “Build Back Better” is on the heels of Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package – a bill light on direct spending to combat the pandemic and heavy on Democratic agenda items.

Diving deep into the new Biden plan, one will find many new line items, like electric vehicle development, siphoning cash away from the actual building of roads and bridges. As CNBC reported on March 31, 2021, Biden’s plan includes “$300 billion into improving drinking-water infrastructure, expanding broadband access and upgrading electric grids”, “$300 billion into building and retrofitting affordable housing, along with constructing and upgrading schools”, and “$580 billion in American manufacturing, research and development and job training efforts.” While mostly worthy causes, nobody should be fooled into thinking this Biden plan is focused on fixing America’s crumbling roads and bridges, while improving public transportation and airports. One of its main focuses is welfare programs. The “pay for” hikes the corporate tax rate to 28% effectively repealing elements of the Trump pre-pandemic record growth inspiring tax cuts.

Former President Trump’s plan, as reported by CNN, was a 53-page document [laying] out his vision: To turn $200 billion in federal money into $1.5 trillion for fixing America’s infrastructure by leveraging local and state tax dollars and private investment.” His plan focused on modernizing infrastructure by encouraging states to match federal grants on a four-to-one ratio and was consistent with the idea it is primarily the states’ responsibility to fix up their own roads and bridges. Congress needs to use the Trump plan as inspiration to both focus this plan back on infrastructure and to control cost.

Our federal government spent a staggering $6.5 trillion last year, and this year will be no different. Some big-spending line items need to be repurposed for roads and bridges. The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program (JSF), for example, has proven to be a massive failure for the taxpayer.  The program costs an exorbitant amount – roughly $1.7 trillion over the lifetime of the program – while producing a substandard aircraft. President Trump recognized the F-35 was in need of some cost-cutting. Congress should cut the F-35, one of the bigger line items, and use its budget to pay for all this new spending. The F-35 is just one of the hundreds of programs in need of cuts or complete obliteration.

Real infrastructure is critical to our country and should be an issue where Republicans and Democrats can agree on a plan to help all states rebuild. President Biden and Congressional Democrats should not use reconciliation to sideline Republicans while trying to undo the Trump tax cuts. If Democrats continue to treat half the country as if they do not exist, the 2022 elections will end in disaster for them. 

By continuing to ignore Republicans and pushing a high tax anti-business agenda, Congressional Democrats may find themselves in the minority. Much of the spending in this bill is over a 10-year window. A Republican-controlled Congress in 2023 could have the power to end the partisan spending and block the implementation of large swaths of the bill. Democrats would be smarter to focus efforts on getting Republicans on board with some cuts, no tax hikes, and more spending on infrastructure.