One of the most striking – and depressing – realities of our nation’s capital these days is the importance of image and the irrelevance of substance and truth.
Appearances have always been somewhat important. Remember that shot of John Edwards coiffing his hair just so in the 2004 campaign? Take the recent so-called Covid relief bill, for example. It had $1,400 in gimmes and extended unemployment benefits as the tempting frosting to keep average folks somewhat happy and muffle complaints. Never mind paying for trillions more; this is a crisis. And we can’t let any crisis go to waste.
The reality, however, is that only about 10 percent of that “Covid relief” was actual Covid relief. The rest was financial takeout for more Democratic constituencies. Yes, folks, elections do have consequences, especially when they vest into one party’s hands control, however slim, of all three political houses—the Representatives, the Senate, and the White.
Now, comes Joe Biden’s so-called “infrastructure bill.” Ask someone in your family right now what infrastructure means to them. I’ll wait.
Chances are they imagine something like crumbling roads, rusting bridges, and the like.
Remember back in the Democrats’ primary campaign that Kamala Harris did not survive? Biden was talking with a bunch of Iowans about the need for infrastructure repairs, which polls show a majority of Americans can agree would be a good thing. So, Biden asked the Iowans what they thought of the condition of the infrastructure there in Ohio. That was an early sign of the old guy’s mounting mental fuzziness, which has become more evident as he began moving through his 79th year.
So, fixing things up with huge government spending was a key plank in Biden’s argument for getting to see the White House upstairs, which Barack Obama never let his political partner visit, close partners that they were.
Biden’s minions, many retreads from the Obama crowd, now have him touting the new jobs part of the so-called infrastructure plan because job creation is an evergreen promise part of Democrats’ pitch for more spending. They do not yet have the president reprising his sadly fabled “shovel-ready jobs” line from the Obama-Biden economic stimulus back in 2010. In those days, such plans’ price tag was only in the hundreds of billions.
Joe Biden was insistent back then that hundreds of thousands of new jobs were just around the corner next month or the one after, certainly by summer or early, well, maybe the fall at the latest. The real explosion of jobs did not come until early in businessman Donald Trump’s term, when spending government money was supplemented by what really matters in economic stimulus: deregulation to encourage business investment in new jobs and tax cuts to allow Americans to keep more of the money they’ve already earned.
Jobs did explode then, by the millions, along with the stock market and government revenues, until last year’s pandemic blew up the growth, along with Trump’s reelection glide.
Here’s the harsh reality that should fracture the carefully-coiffed image of Biden’s immense new spending goal as an infrastructure bill: Barely 30 percent of the $2.3 trillion concerns genuine infrastructure. Less than one-third. The rest, like so much of the previous so-called Covid relief measure, is basically masked earmark spending for long-sought-after Dem dreams. Never let a good crisis go to waste.
Infrastructure always polls well because people think that’s public works like highways, roads, and bridges that we all use. Biden claims there’s $620 billion in his bill for such “transportation.” But wait! Of that, merely $115 billion goes for those purposes. The remainder – are you sitting? – goes toward green energy subsidies to satisfy the Bernie Sanders crowd and other leftist dream projects.
Then — get this – there’s $174 billion for electric vehicles, including a half-million more charging stations because who doesn’t want to interrupt a trip for a few hours to recharge their car? People are not buying these things because of the costs and inconveniences.
So, rather than let the market solve the problems slower but cheaper, these impatient ideologues will try to force the so-called “American Jobs Plan” on society at immense costs not to Joe Biden but to taxpayers.
Remember solar-panel maker Solyndra? The Obama administration wanted to push panels and, to be honest for a change, help a major supporter. So, it issued a $540 million loan guarantee to Solyndra, which just happened to be owned by one of Barack Obama’s fundraising bundlers. The market didn’t want the product so it went under. But don’t worry, Obama’s pal made out just fine thanks to the taxpayer-funded loan guarantee.
Biden also threw into his so-called infrastructure bill $25 billion for child-care facilities and an astonishing $400 billion to boost home-delivered health care because the Biden administration considers those union jobs as infrastructure.
In short, this Biden bid is not a plan for America to Build Back Better. It’s Joe’s blueprint to Build Government Back Bigger. And jack up by 10 or 12 percent the national debt that so many people wring their hands over but, have you noticed, never really do anything about.
Now, someone who is not a liberal and felt pretty good about just paying down their personal Visa credit card by $200 this month might ask, “Exactly how have all the Obama aides now behind Biden told the 78-year-old to say that he will pay for these new trillions, and the $1.9 trillion in “Covid relief” that wasn’t really, and the trillions spent back in January?”
The answer is as clear as this president’s declining faculties: Erase Donald Trump’s successful tax cuts and jack up countless others to the tune of $3 trillion-plus in coming years. For example, boost job-killing corporate taxes by fully one-third to 28 percent again. Sure, rich people create the new jobs — 916,000 of them in March alone. But they’re rich.
The twin spending measures’ congressional fate is uncertain at the moment. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who favors a real infrastructure program, says his caucus will oppose Biden every step. In a 50:50 Senate that puts a handful of moderate Senate Democrats in great position to bargain.
Shocked House Democrats saw their controlling margin dwindle last November to a precarious few seats. And in 19 months come the midterm elections, historically hostile to a president’s party. When Obama’s first midterms came around in 2010, Democrats got devastated, losing an historically high 63 seats. And more importantly, nearly 1,000 state legislative seats, handing the GOP control of that decade’s legislative redistricting. Nancy Pelosi is back at Speaker, but her party has yet to recover locally.
Oh, about paying for these mounting trillions…
But here’s the beauty of today’s phony D.C. image culture and why it survives in that swamp. Even if half of Biden’s spending agenda goes up in flames, he can turn to progressives who pushed it and him, to donors and, of course, to the city’s sympathetic media and point out that he tried, really tried. If only they donate for the next campaign, maybe Joe can get it done.
See, it’s all about how it looks.