President Joe Biden spoke at length Wednesday about his big, fancy American Jobs Plan, which he described as a "once in a generation investment in America."

BIDEN: It's the single largest investment in American jobs since World War II. And it's a plan that puts millions of Americans in the work to fix what's broken in our country, tens of thousands of miles of roads and highways, thousands of bridges in desperate need of repair. But it also is a blueprint for infrastructure needed for tomorrow, not just yesterday, tomorrow. For American jobs, for American competitiveness.

Republicans uniformly oppose Biden's infrastructure plan, because they all suck. They don't want to pay for it and they're not even sure it's infrastructure. Conservatives have a very narrow definition of "infrastructure." They seem to think it's just roads and bridges, but if that were true, you might as well just say "roads and bridges." Why even bother with a separate word for infrastructure. You're not saving that much time.

Biden pushed back against this strict constructionist (i.e. “bullshit") view of infrastructure.

BIDEN: They say, why not focus on traditional infrastructure. Fix what we've already got, the road and the highways that exists, and the bridges. I'm happy to have that debate but let me tell you my view. We are America. We don't just fix for today, we build for tomorrow. 200 years ago, trains weren't traditional infrastructure either until America made a choice to lay down tracks across the country. Highways weren't traditional infrastructure until we allowed ourselves to imagine that roads could connect our nation across state lines. The idea of infrastructure has always evolved to meet the aspirations of American people and their needs, and it's evolving again today.


Please watch Biden's full remarks, linked above, as I think the president makes a compelling case for going big on infrastructure. For some reason, the media chose to present this stirring “can-do" speech as Biden's attempt to “sell" the infrastructure plan, like he was pitching band equipment or a monorail.

The Financial Times, which leans right economically, claimed that infrastructure is a "deceptively dry word" in Biden's mouth. He wasn't talking about a Pinot Gris.

The US president's plan to spend around $2tn on the stuff includes $400bn on care for the elderly and people with disabilities. $100bn will go on job training for disadvantaged groups. And this is before the second tranche of the plan, due this spring, which is expected to enhance childcare and rights to paid leave.

Oh no, will the corruption ever stop! Working from home during the pandemic, when schools were closed, should've reminded everyone how vital childcare is to a functioning economy. The pandemic also disproportionately impacted "disadvantaged groups." There's no guarantee that every job that vanished during the shutdowns is coming back. This is all objectively good and important spending. It's an investment in America that's more forward-thinking than just building one big WALL.

It is bizarre to see Republican recoil in horror at spending money on the elderly and people with disabilities. Fine, whatever, have a semantic debate over what constitutes infrastructure, but are Republicans seriously going to tell old people in need of repair to get fucked because they aren't a bridge or highway?

Guess so.

Twitter

Marsha Blackburn, one of the Senate's dumbest Republicans, tweeted ominously that the "Biden administration is putting their priorities over Americans' priorities," because this idiot thinks the rest of us hate old people. True, Blackburn is herself 68 and annoying, but I'm still fine with her getting a taste of the sweet infrastructure stimmy.

Blackburn went on to declare that “President Biden's proposal is about anything but infrastructure" while calling out the $400 billion on elder care like the federal government's blowing money on eskimo poetry.

Mitch McConnell is usually better at "diabolical," but the Senate minority leader has called Biden's plan a “Trojan horse," because it's secretly stuffed with liberal policies Democrats are trying to sneak past Americans. He might not fully understand how the Trojan horse worked. See, helping old people is the shiny exterior gift everyone likes. It's not the Greek soldiers hidden inside who are going to kill everyone if they haven't already died from suffocation.

Polls shows broad bipartisan support for the American Jobs Plan, but Republicans in Congress only listen to their donors. They won't want to raise taxes on struggling corporations to the levels they were in the distant past of 2017. Biden explained that the corporate tax rate was once 35 percent, during extended periods of economic growth, but he'll meet in the middle at 28 percent so no one thinks he's a commie. Billionaires won't starve, especially those whose wealth grew during the pandemic.

BIDEN: New independent study, put out last week, found that at least 55 of our largest corporations use the various loopholes to pay zero federal income tax in 2020. It's just not fair. It's not fair to the rest of the American taxpayers. We're going to try to put an end to this. Not fleece them. 28%. If you're a mom and dad, a cop, firefighter, police officer, et cetera you're paying close to that in your income tax. [...]

Not trying to punish anybody, but dammit. maybe it's because I come from middle-class neighborhood, I'm sick and tired of ordinary people being fleeced.

Biden also tried appealing to Republicans' nationalist zeal. He argued that investing in infrastructure now can keep us ahead of China, which is counting on “American democracy to be too slow, too limited, and too divided to keep the pace."

The president probably realizes he'll have to pass the American Jobs Plan without any Republican votes while also stroking Joe Manchin's ego, but he's still willing to cooperate with a political party that includes Marsha Blackburn, Ted Cruz, and Josh Hawley.

We'll be listening, we'll be open to good ideas and good-faith negotiations, but here's what we won't be open to: We will not be open to doing nothing

Unfortunately, the GOP has no good ideas and is incapable of negotiating in good faith. Republicans can either do nothing or something terrible. Those are the only options. We prefer nothing. Nothing's always better than voter suppression laws and Amy Coney Barrett.

[Rev / Financial Times]

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."

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