Report: Less than half of Biden’s $2.2T infrastructure plan would go to roads, bridges

An analysis of President Joe Biden’s proposed $2.2 trillion infrastructure spending plan by the Washington Post is liable to feed into Republican critics’ opposition of the measure as overly expensive.

The Post’s analysis of the bill found that while a sizable amount of money has been earmarked specifically for the repair and replacement of roads and bridges, it is still just a small percentage of the overall plan.

According to sources familiar with the legislation who spoke to the paper, it only provides about $650 billion for roads, ports, highways, and bridges, though the administration has been touting it as mostly going towards those projects.

The sources also said that $400 billion will go towards home care for elderly and disabled people, $300 billion for “housing,” $300 billion to revive American manufacturing, and $400 billion in “clean-energy credits,” Newsmax reported.

In addition, there are hundreds of billions included to upgrade the country’s power grid and build nationwide broadband, as well as improve water systems, some of which are a century old.

Sources told the Post that details regarding the legislation are subject to change as final negotiations continue, though it wasn’t clear what some of them might be.

Another likely point of contention in addition to the legislation spending roughly $1.4 trillion on seemingly unrelated projects is the funding for it.

According to White House press secretary Jen Psaki, tax increases — most of which would be levied on corporations — would be used to fund the massive spending bill. That would mean that the bulk of former President Donald Trump’s tax law, passed in 2017 and widely credited for fueling dramatic economic and job growth during his administration, would be reversed, the Post reported, citing its sources. 

Psaki said the initiative will be announced in Pittsburgh and will serve as the launch of Biden’s “Build Back Better” plan. That announcement will be followed by a second one announcing another expensive plan in the coming weeks, she added.

That plan will extend health insurance coverage, a child tax benefit, and paid medical and family leave. Together, both plans could exceed $4 trillion — on top of a similar amount of spending already earmarked for so-called COVID-19 relief and the fiscal year 2021 budget, which was already projected to have a $2.3 trillion deficit.

It’s not clear at all that Biden’s massive bills will pass because the Senate is evenly divided at 50-50 and budget reconciliation was already used to pass the president’s $1.9 trillion COVID relief measure.

However, Democrats continue to push for eliminating the filibuster in order to get Biden’s agenda passed. And there are discussions already about using budget reconciliation again in order to get infrastructure spending done.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has reportedly asked the chamber parliamentarian about using an obscure provision of the Budget Reconciliation Act of 1974 to get both of Biden’s spending measures through this year, even though the process is supposedly limited to budgetary items and only one use per fiscal year.

“Reconciliation isn’t an ideal end-run around the filibuster. It can only be used for budgetary bills, and the parliamentarian has the authority to strip any unrelated provisions. This occurred recently, when the parliamentarian ruled that a provision raising the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2025 could not be included in the American Rescue Plan,” CBS News reported.

Also, there is growing concern about the ballooning national deficit.

“Those deficits, which were already projected to be large by historical standards before the onset of the 2020–2021 coronavirus pandemic, have widened significantly as a result of the economic disruption caused by the pandemic and the enactment of legislation in response,” the Congressional Budget Office said in a report last month.

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Jon Dougherty

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