Biden’s Infrastructure Bill is the Kind of Boost Our Nation Needs

President Joe Biden’s decades-long experience in Washington DC is paying off, at least when it comes to his latest creation the Build Back Better Plan otherwise packaged as the “Infrastructure” bill.

First, Biden recognizes the time frame for a president to get anything major done is short. Realistically, without a same-party majority in both chambers of Congress – that time frame is next to zero. In Biden’s case with same-party backing (Dems control both House and Senate) — however slim – that time for maximum influence is one or two years. Waiting past the midterm (2022) is a gamble. A majority flip in any congressional chamber cripples any president to sitting duck status, immediately. This is political reality.

Second, Biden knows the Democrat party is a colossal tent with many factions that he must accommodate. The Democratic party is a far bigger donkey than elephant, contrary to what elections show. If it wasn’t for the Electoral College and the two-senators-per-state allocation, the Republican party would have been a relic in “national” politics for decades, precisely since the end term of the first Bush president. The Dem party’s size means more people to please, more work to get done.

Infrastructure bill is much more than what you think
So experience tells Biden (remember he’s been at the Capitol since 1973) in the super-condensed time frame and the fact that bipartisanism rarely exists (thanks to Mitch McConnell) that the next major bill must be loaded.

What this means in concrete terms (especially after 2021 COVID relief bill that passed by the slimmest of margins) is that Biden’s next major priority bill, this “Infrastructure” bill, must include far more than just building bridges and roads.

He must craft and work in magically in that infrastructure bill elements to please both establishment and progressive DEMS (again, a majority of Americans by far).

And the tag “Infrastructure” must go well beyond the “traditional” definition as far as Washington DC is accustomed to. But in all fairness, today’s Capitol hasn’t been operating traditionally for decades, anyway. So that argument can be flushed down the drain as soon as it leaves McConnell or Kevin McCarthy’s lips.

Actually, a traditional infrastructure bill (that Donald Trump didn’t prioritize, nor lobbied to get done) would have been a disastrous underachievement for Biden and for Americans who desperately need much more.

A strict infrastructure “only” bill should be a slam dunk, bipartisan effort reserved for the second half of a presidency or launched in a second term, much like perhaps Trump had planned and could have succeeded, but lost.

A strict infrastructure “only” bill at this specific time in Biden’s presidency would have also been a weak jobs creator that benefits only the existing “haves” — the same construction companies, engineers, architects and those already employed in the industry of building. It would hardly be an expansion of new markets, just a fattening of old markets.

Working and middle-class Americans need action far more dramatic and impactful in this short two-year window, similar to how Trump and Republicans delivered on their “super dramatic” corporate tax cuts for their base during their short two-years triple power alignment.

What’s in the bill?
Americans must look at the “Infrastructure” bill more like building a new economy. It’s an ambitious investment that could cost trillions. The bill is partly as it is called, “building and updating physical infrastructures” in the form of highways, roads, bridges, federal buildings, airports, ports, transportation modes, public schools, hospitals, VA facilities, public housing, etc. All of these are necessary as America’s modern infrastructure are being quickly surpassed by other countries more willing to make these investments.

Where the expansion part comes in is there are also plans to make major investments in clean energy, rebuilding clean drinking water infrastructure (replacing all lead pipes), upgrading wastewater (sewage) and stormwater systems, renewing a better electric grid (remember the recent devastation in Texas), expanding high-speed broadband (digital infrastructure) which will throw the door wide open for all kinds of new jobs, good quality new jobs.

Then there are also seemingly “noninfrastructure” provisions that will provide funds for child care, elder care, even family tax credits. All three of them are specifically related to and help with our nation’s workforce. Again, it’s like building the infrastructure of the jobs-workforce.

There are provisions to revitalize manufacturing and small businesses (via incubators and innovation hubs) and to establish workforce development.

There are other significant features but the bill is fluid. The hefty price tag will also require a longer period to deliberate, perhaps months. The goal would be to pass the bill in bipartisan fashion without reconciliation (not pulling the filibuster lever). But if neither reconciliation or bipartisanship will work, the bill could be broken into parts, likely two major parts.

Right now, Biden and DEMS are in the public relations (and crafting) phase, a critical part of legislation-making, especially for a bill of this magnitude and cost. They are also trying to get Republicans on board.

The main takeaway at this juncture and a winning argument is it’s insufficient to have as a goal to get back to a pre-COVID economy. The pandemic exposed weaknesses we’re all too aware of. There must be bold changes and investment in infrastructure, jobs, and workforce development support. This bill should be supported by both Democrats and Republicans. It’s the kind of investment our nation needs.

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