Most of us think of infrastructure as something physical: bridges, roads, pipelines, power lines and the like. President Joe Biden says he wants to expand that dictionary definition to include workers, families and people — and therefore to include schools and housing, for example.

That twisting of the dictionary definition of infrastructure is making the Build Back Better package massive and expensive — and, when coupled with how Biden wants to pay for it, by rolling back the Trump tax cuts on businesses, likely will mean it meets strong resistance in Congress. It could cost as much as $4 trillion. It is, as The Associated Press pointed out, on par with the New Deal or Great Society programs — though much, much more expensive and expansive.

Expanding the definition of traditional infrastructure makes sense if we’re talking about including broadband internet. But child care, prekindergarten education or free community college? That kind of spending requires its own discussion as those items don’t belong in the bill.

There are efforts in this plan to make generational investments in infrastructure, revive domestic manufacturing, combat climate change and keep the United States competitive with China. It is an enormous set of ideas. Biden seems to understand he cannot simply ram this one through. Rather than calling it an emergency, he is hoping for passage by the end of summer. But needed improvements to our roads, bridges and broadband internet access must not hang on bipartisan approval of free prekindergarten education, to choose just one sticking point. This one carries too much danger of being an all-or-nothing monster that dies without doing any good at all.

The Biden administration is aiming for “Not just modernizing our roads, our railways and our bridges, but building an infrastructure of the future,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki.

Increases in spending that ambitious don’t happen without tax increases to match. It would be wise to Build Back Better one step at a time, rather than forcing the plan into existence all at once.

(4) comments

Donald

When the usual suspects begin redefining commonly understood words you can be sure you are being lied to and a hustle is in play. Unfortunately, the gullible – and there are many – fall for it and even defend it. At some point the word morphs into something entirely unrelated and ultimately slides into meaninglessness – but not before it has spawned a plethora of nonsense words and phrases to replace it.

As the late Fritz Hollings may have said, “Dey a hold lotta systemic systemicism goin’ on out dyah!!” [wink]

sbsheridan

President Biden's infrastructure plan challenges Americans to reconsider which items make up our infrastructure, as well as how to pay for these items. Thinking of physical items alone as infrastructure seem a bit old-fashioned; modern information-based economies need well-educated, creative workers to survive. Such workers are key to creating new products and services, and perhaps less costly means of transportation or communications (e.g. infrastructure). Over the last 50 or 75 years, our economy has also grown dependent on female, as well as male, workers, and the pandemic demonstrated how a lack of child care severely restricts the availability of parents to participate in the work force. The nature of America's economy has changed significantly over the past ccentury; perhaps our concept of infrastructure needs to change as well.

An additional tweak that would make your editorial a bit more accurate is the contention that Biden's infrastructure plans would be paid for by "rolling back the Trump tax cuts on business." In truth, Biden's plan rolls back Trump's tax cut only partially -- some have suggested by 50%. This seems appropriate, since Trump's cut did not fulfill its promise of improving our infrastructure, and therefore our economy, by encouraging private investment. Instead, aT great a share of that cut was used by corporations to buy back their stock, further increasing the personal gains of wealthy individuals without benefiting the country as a whole. The new Biden perspective should be seriously considered.

brokenanvil

I don’t mind hearing the Administration’s perspective on child care, elder care and a more efficient training and education strategy as well as a few other concepts not typically associated with “infrastructure”. However, I do believe those issues are deserving of their own well thought out strategies and legislation. Anything less invites disaster.

Despite repeated promises from state and federal legislators, a very large segment of Americans are without broadband access. That’s a pressing issue along with crumbling bridges and other infrastructure that demand immediate solutions. Other problems, whether one wishes to argue them as “infrastructure” or not, need not become mired in a highly politicized legislative process that undoubtedly leave them left at the starting gate.

posumcop

You are too funny. How to pay for these boondoggles is the VERY LAST THING Biden and the dems/libs/progs/socs are thinking about!

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