EDITORIAL: On infrastructure: Be careful what you want
ANALYSIS / OPINION:
Pollster David Winston has argued for some time that public support for infrastructure measures being considered by Congress has more to do with labeling than content.
A poll he conducted in June found that the American people – Democrats and Republicans alike – largely rejected the idea that government spending will lead to economic growth. However, when the term infrastructure was introduced, its support as a measure of growth increased significantly. “Given this dynamic, it’s no wonder the Democratic strategy is to define everything in the context of infrastructure as much as possible,” he wrote.
The Senate has already approved a smaller bipartisan compromise than House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif wants.
Their $ 1.2 trillion plan is heavier in funding for roads, bridges, airports and rail projects than the Liberals’ $ 3.5 trillion programs backed by AOC and Biden’s White House.
Neither bill is likely to pass easily, especially as Ms Pelosi’s insistence on the budget reconciliation bill that the progressives have championed is approved first. A few defective moderate Democrats could kill the measure, just as a few progressives could kill the bipartisan infrastructure bill. Ms Pelosi can only afford to lose three Democratic votes in her slim majority.
Both bills contain funds necessary for things for which the federal government is responsible. They also contain foreign measures that have nothing to do with roads, bridges and airports. It is a matter of concern. Rushing them as leverage to get votes for budget reconciliation would be a disservice to the American people. The price of either is too high – especially with more than $ 1 trillion in COVID-19 state emergency aid still unspent – and there are too many projects for pets to pass up even the compromise and bipartisan bill without extensive revisions.
Compromise legislation still funds large dubious programs like the $ 110 billion earmarked for climate change-related physical infrastructure repairs and $ 73 billion to fund clean energy as well as small ones like the $ 10 billion allocated To clean up the PFAS chemicals in our water, an effort that so-called environmental groups say must be a priority.
In truth, PFAS chemicals are far from the most significant problem facing U.S. rivers and water supplies. The EPA cites industry and agriculture, human and animal waste, and water treatment and distribution as common sources of drinking water contaminants, but does not mention PFAS in this context. Therefore, the need for their remediation is just a shining object that has caught the attention of the right mix of lawmakers, lobbyists, and congressional staff enough to get into the bill.
It might not be a problem if we didn’t have to worry about every penny the government spends now that the total debt exceeds a single year of US GDP. We need to focus on important issues such as adequate funding for the replacement of obsolete and unsafe lead water pipes.
Before doing more to move either infrastructure bill, Congress should carefully review what is already in it and reduce it even further. Funds poorly allocated to projects of special interest should be reprogrammed or, better, cut entirely. Limiting spending is important, even for important things.