Republicans Will Never Agree to an Infrastructure Deal; It's Time to Move On & Get It Done
Republicans in the Senate want to run out the clock in the hopes of preventing the Biden administration from passing a historic and much needed infrastructure package.
Illuminate: "Biden's Build Back Better plan is the keystone to the President's agenda, the catalyst to revitalize the US economy and create the infrastructure necessary for America to compete with China and India. Moreover, it's not just a roads and bridge infrastructure plan; it will create the base on which we can build a just, sustainable, and environmentally sound 21st century economy."
Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has flatly stated that he intends to fight Biden’s agenda “every step of the way,” understands how important this legislation is to Biden's domestic policy agenda and will work tirelessly to derail it. So, he will try to delay passage long enough to allow the economic expansion and inflation fears to blunt Biden's momentum. The President's infrastructure plan with corporate tax increases to pay for it is quite popular now, but McConnell hopes that as the economy heats up in May and June support will fade. Moreover, McConnell understands that all he has to do is peel away one vote to stop the legislation.
Biden needs all 50 Democratic votes to pass his plan through the reconciliation process in the Senate but Sen Joe Manchin would prefer a bipartisan infrastructure bill to give him cover in very "red" West Virginia. So far, the President has acquiesced and engaged in talks with the GOP. However, they have dug in over tax increases and envisage a bare bones bill with very little new spending on traditional infrastructure like roads and bridges and almost nothing to modernize the economy.
Associated Press: "The White House’s hopes for a bipartisan deal on infrastructure have cooled but they have not abandoned the effort, according to an administration official not authorized to speak publicly about the private conversations. There was some dismay that the Republican counteroffer did not substantially budge from the party’s original $568 billion proposal, leaving it far short of the White House’s plan, according to the official."
Yesterday, Biden tried to bridge part of the gap between the parties to show Democratic moderates like Manchin that he is willing to compromise. He offered to reduce the price tag of his infrastructure proposal by about a quarter, from $2.25 trillion to $1.7 trillion, but kept elements that Republicans oppose like new investments in clean energy, child care, and education. The President also maintained corporate tax increases in his new proposal to pay for the plan, angering many Republicans. The 2017 corporate tax reductions were the GOP's only legislative achievement during the Trump years and they won't budge on that element. Instead, they propose "user fees" to pay for infrastructure improvements.
Washington Post: "In its place, GOP leaders have proposed to raise or impose new fees on those who use infrastructure. That could include an increase to the taxes Americans pay when they fill their cars with gas, or new charges on those who own electric vehicles. But Democrats are sour on that plan, and the White House has indicated that it would violate Biden’s pledge not to raise taxes on Americans who make under $400,000 a year."
Yesterday, Republicans quickly trashed Biden's revamped infrastructure plan, but they also showed their hand; this isn't really a negotiation during which each side moves incrementally toward the middle. There is no middle ground for Republicans on the most vital elements of Biden's proposal.
Washington Post: “There continue to be vast differences between the White House and Senate Republicans when it comes to the definition of infrastructure, the magnitude of proposed spending, and how to pay for it,” [GOP Sen.] Capito and her Senate colleagues later said in their statement.”
The Bottom Line: Joe Biden won the election by seven million votes and his Build Back Better initiative is the centerpiece of his legislative agenda and widely supported by economists [see here and here]. Moreover, the upcoming mid-term elections may well hinge on what Biden has accomplished and much of the infrastructure spending would be ramping up as voters go to the polls in November of 2022. So, if Democrats want to keep their majority, they need to move forward quickly to pass infrastructure before events undermine the sense of urgency.
By: Don Lam & Curated Content