The Corner

Politics & Policy

The Only Thing Democrats Have Agreed to Do Is Spend Your Money

President Joe Biden reacts to reporters as he is escorted by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer from a lunch with the Senate Democratic Caucus at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., July 14, 2021. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

Say what you want about America’s infrastructure needs, this is not a serious way to go about fixing them.

Congressional Democrats announced they’ve reached an agreement to spend $3.5 trillion over the next decade. The AP gives the game away when it writes, “But Democrats . . . will have to work hard to convert their plans into legislation they can push through the closely divided Congress.”

There’s no legislation yet! The agreement, in practical effects for the American people, amounts to jack squat.

As I pointed out when the bipartisan infrastructure framework was agreed upon at the end of June, the only thing the politicians have agreed to do is spend a bunch of your money. We don’t know how. We don’t know on what projects.

It seems that if this were truly about infrastructure needs, the way to go about it would be to talk to state transportation officials (the ones who actually do most of the infrastructure work in this country) and ask them for a list of projects that need financial assistance. Get cost estimates of each project and accept bids from contractors. Work with state governments to share funding obligations. Put it together into a proposal so that the American people and their elected representatives can debate it on the merits.

But that’s a lot of work. Congress isn’t particularly interested in doing a lot of work. It’s much easier to promise to spend other people’s money.

Democrats have made clear time and again that they don’t really think this is about infrastructure, in any commonly understood sense of the word. They’re just putting together a progressive wish list and hoping the American people don’t notice.

Republicans need to make sure the American people notice.

Phil’s right: Republicans need to get out of this thing now. They should be perfectly happy to let Democrats accept full responsibility for promising to blow trillions of taxpayer dollars on nothing in particular.

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