On Tuesday, writing for The Washington Post Plum Line, columnists Paul Waldman and Greg Sargent outlined how Republicans in Congress are planning to derail President Joe Biden's push for an infrastructure package — and how Democrats could fight back.
"Biden's plan will include approximately $650 billion to rebuild the United States' infrastructure, such as its roads, bridges, highways and ports, the people said," wrote Waldman and Sargent. "The plan will also include in the range of $400 billion toward care for the elderly and the disabled, $300 billion for housing infrastructure and $300 billion to revive U.S. manufacturing. It will also include hundreds of billions of dollars to bolster the nation's electric grid, enact nationwide high-speed broadband and revamp the nation's water systems to ensure clean drinking water, among other major investments, the people said."
"Those all seem like worthy goals. So how will Republicans argue against them?" they wrote. "One way will revolve around fearmongering about deficits and tax hikes. Another will seek to cherry-pick from the package to portray it as stuffed with wasteful boondoggles."
Biden is expected to propose funding his plan with a large package of new tax hikes, mainly on corporate profits and people making over $200,000 a year. Effectively, he is seeking a reversal of several parts of the Republican tax cut bill passed in 2017 — and Republicans are sure to claim this is bad for the economy.
"Democrats have a good way to call the GOP bluff: Renew the push for a boost in funding for the Internal Revenue Service, so it can start hauling in the huge piles of revenue that will likely to go uncollected in coming years — much from the wealthy and corporations," wrote Waldman and Sargent. "Tax experts say that due to IRS budget cuts and resulting lax enforcement, as much as $7.5 trillion in revenue could go uncollected over the next decade, a good deal of it from wealthy actors who are well resourced to evade payments. They also say netting even a fraction of that could bring in gobs of new revenue."
The other aspect will be for Republicans to cherry-pick the infrastructure projects in the bill that end up not working — as they did with the Solyndra grant in former President Barack Obama's stimulus program.
"Solyndra was indeed a failure: As part of a federal program to support promising companies, the Obama administration gave a $535 million loan to the firm. But their solar panel technology struggled to compete against low-cost panels from China, and the company eventually went bankrupt," wrote Waldman and Sargent. "But the whole point of the loan program was to take risks, in the knowledge that some of them wouldn't work out. And other loans paid off spectacularly well. You may have heard of another up-and-coming green tech company that got a $465 million loan at around the same time, enabling it to start making passenger cars. It's called Tesla. It paid back its loan with interest, and today has more than 70,000 employees."
"This is the heart of the story Republicans want to tell: Government can't do anything right, and when it tries to boost the economy over the long haul it will waste taxpayers' money without anything to show for it," they concluded. "While the proof will ultimately be in whether Democrats deliver, they should be confident that the story they can tell will shape up to be the better and truer one."
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