GOP Infrastructure Counter-Offer: This Road To Nowhere!
Photo: Alan Light, Creative Commons license 2.0

When we saw this very good Roll Call piece on the Republican "counter-offer" to Joe Biden's infrastructure plan, we initially thought, "wait, didnt Wonkette already cover that last week? And as it turns out, yes indeed, Liz wrote about it a week ago, but at the time, it was more of a vague suggestion of a halfassed infrastructure proposal, floated by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-West Virginia). But all that changed yesterday, when Republicans rolled out their actual concrete plan, which is now a fully formed two-page outline of a halfassed infrastructure proposal. It's more or less the same thing Capito floated last week, but with a more precise price tag ($568 billion over five years, as opposed to Biden's $2.3 trillion over eight years), some additional "moderate" Republicans putting their names on it, and for all we know, maybe wider margins and a different font.

Capito was very proud of what she insisted is a "robust package" of spending for roads and bridges and stuff, saying the proposal is "the largest infrastructure investment that Republicans have come forward with," although we're pretty sure she means "recently," considering that long ago, Dwight Eisenhower brought us the Interstate Highway System. The package was immediately panned by congressional Democrats like Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), chair of the Senate Finance Committee, who was not a big fan at all.

"The issue is, are Republicans going to be serious about getting over the bar of being serious. [...] Because this was not a real proposal."

Wyden called the proposal "light years out of the ballpark in terms of being able to get a bipartisan compromise," not just because it was far less than what Biden called for, but because "big corporations, they're constantly using roads, bridges and infrastructure, pay not a penny, and families basically get stuck with the bill."

But hold on, Mr. Senator! What if the GOP threw in a promise to never roll back any of Trump's tax cuts, ever? Because that was in the proposal, too, along with not really explaining how the party of fiscal responsibility would pay for even their itty-bitty infrastructure plan, beyond "user fees," reallocating unused funds from the stimulus bills, and "not adding to the debt," which is also not technically a way of paying for anything.

So what's in this sucker? For starters it's very gung-ho on highways, because the future is apparently all about internal combustion engines. Where Biden's plan calls for $115 billion for roads and bridges, the GOP plan wants to spend $299 billion, which clever people will notice is about half of the entire proposal. And while Biden's plan focuses on reducing greenhouse emissions, with big investments in electric vehicles and charging stations, retrofitting buildings for energy savings, and investing in environmental justice, the Republican plan doesn't bother with any of that, apart from "securing infrastructure in a way to make it withstand extreme weather events," which is definitely a part of what's needed, but not enough on its own. Might as well have a "dental plan" that covers floss but ignores toothbrushes and toothpaste.

As Liz noted last week, The Capitol Bill Gang isn't serious about fixing our dreadful drinking water infrastructure, either. Biden's proposal would replace all the lead water lines and mains in the country, with an overall water system investment of $111 billion. The GOP proposal would only devote $30 billion to water infrastructure, which is more than Republicans ever considered after Flint, to be sure. But you can't even call that a down payment, because there's no hint that Republicans would be inclined to ever follow it with anything else

Also, while the GOP plan likes the general idea of "user fees," it's short on specifics, apart from insisting that owners of electric cars be taxed extra, since they cheat on paying for roads by not paying any gas tax. No, not a hint of a gas tax increase, either, although the Washington Post points out that's partly because when Capito suggested it early on, the White House said nah because of Biden's campaign promise not to raise taxes on families earning less than $400,000.

Still, some Democrats who should know better seem inclined to at least pretend the GOP proposal is a serious first step at negotiating, rather than an empty gesture at putting out a "proposal" that won't pay for even its own pared-down goals, for the purpose of saying "But Democrats didn't even listen to our very serious ideas." Chris Coons (D-Delaware), called the proposal "a serious attempt at providing a counteroffer that meets the general framework that I was hoping for," which is nice of him. Pardon our skepticism about the prospects of any Republicans taking it seriously, though.

[Roll Call / WaPo / Politico / Photo: Alan Light, Creative Commons license 2.0]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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