On quite a few editions of The Editors podcast this year, the topic of the ongoing (and ongoing and ongoing) negotiations over the infrastructure bills arises – both the bipartisan and the ever-shifting gargantuan $3.5 trillion or so one. And while we find things to say… it doesn’t feel like as a news story, the spending bills are going anywhere.
Congressional reporters keep telling us that the make-or-break moment is here… week after week. And then Joe Manchin makes it sound like he’s doubtful, or Kyrsten Sinema raises similar objections, and the Twitter Left throws a tantrum. And then a few days later, Pramila Jayapal or AOC or some other progressive will threaten that if the bill doesn’t include a few billion for art supplies for the underprivileged or free iPhones for those who are overdue on their student loans or some other spending priority, they will walk away and let the deal collapse. And then the purple district House Democrats start shifting in their seats uncomfortably and murmuring noises of concern about the midterm elections. And the congressional correspondents speak, with very concerned tones, about whether House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will be able to find the votes, or whether the Senate Parliamentarian will allow some provision to be passed through reconciliation.
And the process just drags on, week after week; the negotiation process never quite fully falls apart, and it never reaches a deal that can get enough votes in the House and Senate. And while two chambers of Congress, both narrowly controlled by Democrats, spend day after day debating whether $3.5 trillion or so is too much to spend, too little, or just right (SPOILER ALERT, it is too much)… the country tries to deal with real problems that will not necessarily be fixed by a Congressional spending spree. The waves of migrants at the border that Biden insisted was just part of a seasonal pattern keep getting bigger. Biden insisted inflation was not a real threat, but Americans keep staring in disbelief at their grocery bills. The virus remains stubbornly not “shut down.” Oh, and the administration left Americans stranded in Afghanistan, not that the national media cares much anymore.
America has problems. But the federal government not spending enough money is not one of them.