The Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill Is a Sham
The $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill is a sham. Not only that, it’s a sham that sets up a much bigger round of explicitly partisan spending later in the year.
In a climactic vote this afternoon, 19 Senate Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R–Ky.), signed onto the bill, which calls for $550 billion in new spending as part of more than $1 trillion in funding for roads, bridges, waterways, and broadband. The bill also includes essential infrastructure provisions like, er, requiring unproven new drunk-driving-prevention technology on cars, a vaping ban on Amtrak, and new reporting requirements for cryptocurrency.
The Republicans repeatedly claimed that the spending would be fully paid for, despite plenty of reasons to suspect that it won’t be. As Reason‘s Eric Boehm reported, the Congressional Budget Office, Congress’ nonpartisan scorekeeper, estimates that the bill would add at least $256 billion to the deficit, and probably more like $400 billion. Nineteen Republicans voted for it anyway.
The same Republicans also claim that while they support the infrastructure spending, they are deeply opposed to the rest of the Democratic agenda, which is being moved separately as part of a $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package that Democrats plan to pass on a party line.
You might think of the budget resolution as the “everything else bill.” It funds the bulk of President Joe Biden’s agenda that is not physical infrastructure. It’s focused largely on climate and social spending—vastly increasing federal funding for Medicare, Obamacare, and a yet-to-be-determined new federal health program as well as welfare-style payments to parents of children and the “first ever Civilian Climate Corps.”
Democrats have insisted that this bill too will be fully paid for, but they haven’t spelled out the precise mechanisms. And reconciliation instructions released earlier this week allow for as much as $1.75 trillion in deficit spending over the next decade; like the infrastructure bill, it’s unlikely that this “fully paid for” legislation will actually be fully paid for in the end.
The $3.5 trillion budget plan, in other words, is a big government, progressive-agenda spending bill (even if the progressives would have preferred an even bigger reconciliation package). It’s the sort of legislation that Rep
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