Columns

Joe Biden's Pie-in-the-Sky Infrastructure Plan Isn't Entirely Horrible...

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

President Joe Biden provided his economic vision for the country in a speech in Pennsylvania on Wednesday. It is reminiscent of his former boss’s talking point about “shovel-ready jobs” over a decade ago. Now President Biden is framing his plan as the most significant public investment since World War II. Unfortunately, America’s infrastructure degraded largely because of the post-World War II consensus. That is, the consensus in which the U.S. provides billions for other nations’ defense, doles out foreign aid that is distributed to unaccountable and ineffective NGOs, and pays an outsize share for international bodies like the United Nations.

Meanwhile, the European nations were rebuilt and subsidized by us, making them able to spend their national wealth on social programs.

It was also precious when, in his speech, President Biden talked about China as a primary competitor that we must address. He himself is part of the bipartisan kleptocracy that has been transferring our wealth and jobs to China for decades for their own personal profit. It’s like the drunk uncle in a wealthy family selling off the drapes and then complaining that there is no way to shut out the sun.

Biden’s complaints about the transfer of wealth during the pandemic were also adorable. Most of this was caused by draconian lockdowns that shut down small retailers and left big box stores open or forced consumers to shop online. Biden is blaming those who simply benefitted from primarily Democrat lockdown policies for their good fortune at being able to continue to operate.

Today’s unemployment rate is lower than it was when Biden and President Barack Obama won reelection in 2012. Yet Biden speaks as if we are in the midst of the Great Depression. By the time Congress passed the American Rescue Plan of 2021, the unemployment rate was 6.2%. In November 2012, it was 7.7%. Yet, here is Joe Biden pumping a massive government jobs program. He also says the economy will grow 6% this year. Post pandemic shutdown, this figure is probably lower than it should be.

No, AOC, the Green New Deal Is NOT the Solution to Texas Blackouts

Biden used this rhetoric in order to justify the same kind of massive government programs with “shovel-ready jobs” that President Franklin D. Roosevelt implemented. Many economists have argued that these prolonged America’s recovery from the Great Depression. Biden also stoked the flames of a media-created race war to justify a transfer of wealth larger than the one signed by Lyndon B. Johnson — which never moved the overall poverty rate. Biden said we will cut child poverty in half, a feat that has been accomplished by no government program ever.

Not everything he proposes is awful or unneeded. We should all be able to get behind removing lead pipes that carry water to homes and schools. Expanding high-speed internet access started under FCC Chairman Ajit Pai with significant progress and should continue. If we need oil wells capped, do it. All of these are specific, measurable projects that one could almost trust the government to manage.

If the administration wants high-speed rail, they should call Elon Musk and ask him to build it. The project for a bullet train in California is years and billions over plan. We need intelligent people in charge of these projects to take them out of the corrupt government-contracting programs. If we have ten crucial bridges that need to be rebuilt, get the private sector involved. State and federal road and bridge projects take too long. Let someone come in who can deliver a project with agreed-upon quality, on-time, and under budget. No one in the government does this.

With declining unemployment and jobless claims falling, no one should be on board with massive government jobs programs. Under Obama’s grand plan, very few jobs materialized, as evidenced by persistently high unemployment in the fall of 2012. This is because these projects take years, not months, from the time they are funded to the time they begin construction:

William Ibbs, a professor of civil engineering at the University of California at Berkley, was quoted in a September 26, 2011, Politico article saying, “As a rule of thumb, you’re looking at three years for a project, really going from the time the federal government says we have the money and want to spend it. The politicians really don’t understand how cumbersome the process is these days. Environmental permitting, especially on road projects can take years. You’re hiring attorneys, not really shoveling a lot of dirt.”

At the next point in his speech, Biden talked about two things: building 500,000 electric charging stations for motor vehicles and investing in battery research and development. Why would we build charging stations for batteries that aren’t developed yet? Cart, meet horse. And why would we replace the entire federal fleet with electric vehicles when the most expensive electric car has a maximum range of 346 miles? Depending on what type of charger and battery, this car can take up to 11 hours to fully charge. An honest CEO from Toyota, who will not be asking the Biden administration for subsidies or a bailout, has repeatedly said America does not have enough electricity to convert to electric vehicles. The government should not spend taxpayer dollars on aspirational projects not based on reality.

Green Activists Fuel China’s Dominance in a Sector Critical to the U.S. Economy and Green Energy

The canard of green jobs has been discussed many times. The permit process for these and community objections to the solar and wind farms delay projects for years. The necessity of rare earth metals in the process makes us dependent on China, which mines and refines the lion’s share globally. China is importing record amounts of oil and coal and building new fossil-fuel plants. It has also threatened to lower its exports of rare earth metals to the U.S. As Alex Epstein, author of The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels, explained:

A lot of that electricity is used to build unreliable solar panels and wind turbines for us. Of course, we don’t mostly build them here because they have to be built with cheap energy which means they have to be built with fossil fuels. They are not built with solar panels and wind turbines, obviously. So, you have China making this very strong strategic move to get us to unilaterally disempower and for them to empower.

Using the winter storm in Texas or the California blackouts as evidence of the need for more green energy is also a bizarre argument for Biden to make. Same with the California wildfires. If California is the only state that burns annually, it is due to restrictive environmental policies, not climate change.

Biden repeated the same debunked lies about the Trump tax cuts and vowed once again not to raise taxes on anyone making less than $400,000. It is not clear whether this income benchmark is per individual or per household. Additionally, there is a lot of talk about a per-mile tax. This tax would hurt the exact same union workers driving around to cap oil wells whom Biden promises not to impact. It will also hit small-business owners with large sales regions and the man who lives across the street who is a construction project manager. This idea needs to get knocked off the table.

Finally, Joe Biden is specifically courting private-sector unions with this plan. He openly asked for Congress to pass the horrific PRO Act based on A.B. 5 in California. Voters in that state gutted A.B. 5 in November 2020, but now the general idea is resurfacing at the federal level. Forcing a labor-management structure from the early 20th-century on a 21st-century economy is ridiculous. Increasing union density is also straight-up grift for Democrats. Biden says it is time for unions to get a piece of the action. You would think he might consider taxpayers paying off the unions’ muti-employer pension plans after decades of mismanagement is enough.

A proposal like the one President Biden is making is the best argument for single-issue bills. There are some things in the bill most Americans would support, like expanding high-speed internet and getting lead out of the water people drink. But the pie-in-the-sky green-energy proposals and jobs programs need much more scrutiny and a grounding in reality.

Why Democrats Need the PRO Act: Union Density, Mandatory Dues and Straight-Up Graft
Joe Biden Promises Fewer Fires, Floods, and Hurricanes if He Wins in November
Putting a Price Tag on AOC’s ‘Green New Deal’
AOC to Co-Chair Joe Biden’s Climate Change Task Force as DNC Unites With Bernie Sanders