Republicans have told President Joe Biden that they're ready, willing and eager to negotiate with him on the spending and funding of his landmark infrastructure plan. The problem, however, is that they won't negotiate with Biden on the spending and funding mechanism of the plan.
Writing for the Washington Post Sunday, columnist James Downie noted that the GOP claims that it wants to be part of the solution, but only if it means they get everything they want and Democrats don't get anything.
"It's as if Republicans went into a car dealership, made a lowball offer for a top-of-the-line model and then tried to argue: Well, there's a deal to be had if we leave out the wheels," wrote Downie.
"We're focusing on core infrastructure," Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) told ABC's "This Week" Sunday. "I actually believe there's a deal to be had, if we leave things out like the Green New Deal, and recyclable cafeteria trays and climate justice."
It's ironic because when former President Donald Trump proposed a $2 Trillion package, he called the highway bill "ready to go."
America’s infrastructure is the lifeblood of our economy. At a time when our nation is dealing with an economic cri… https://t.co/phkH77NAJx— Sen. John Barrasso (@Sen. John Barrasso) 1585669193.0
The Republican-proposed package is nothing more than a lie, because the overwhelming majority of the infrastructure spending is already part of the budget as Glenn Kessler and Catherine Rampell wrote for The Post this week.
The GOP's $568 billion package is nothing more than $379 billion in already allocated spending rebranded as an infrastructure package with $189 billion in new spending as a tip.
"Counting only what Republicans consider 'core' infrastructure, the gap between the two sides' proposals is almost $600 billion," wrote Downie.
Republicans like Barrasso call this "a massive amount of infrastructure."
"There's little reason to expect them to meet the White House in the middle," said Downie.
The Brookings Institute calculated in 2020 that the one-time cost to build the infrastructure necessary to deliver high-speed broadband internet to every part of the United States would cost about $80 billion. That leaves just $109 billion in funding from the GOP's plan.
In 2020, the American Road and Transportation Builder's Association (ARTBA) calculated that there were about 46,000 bridges in the United States that are "structurally deficient" and in "poor condition." According to their report, "nearly 231,000 U.S. bridges need major repair work or should be replaced." That comes to a cost of "nearly $164 billion, based on average cost data published by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)."
Fixing bridges and bringing broadband to the whole country would already cost more than what the GOP is ready to give. That doesn't include fixing any highways, upgrading any ports or airports, no funding for rail, no funding to replace led pipes delivering drinking water, update the electric grid, fix crumbling 100-year-old sewage systems and a slew of other items on Biden's list.
"So Republicans are open to meeting Democrats halfway on infrastructure spending and funding, except when it comes to the spending and the funding," wrote Downie. "If this is 'negotiation,' then the word has lost all meaning."