How Biden’s Infrastructure Plan Affects You
Dear Rich Lifer,
It seems that a bipartisan compromise has yet to be reached regarding President Joe Biden’s proposed infrastructure bill.
On Wednesday, President Biden hosted top Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress to discuss areas where they could potentially find middle ground on the issue of infrastructure.
The meeting consisted of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.), and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.). Vice President Kamala Harris was also present for the meeting.
Today, we will take a look at what was discussed in the two-hour meeting, if any progress was made, and what the future of the infrastructure bill looks like.
What is Infrastructure?
It seems that a very basic point of discussion has become a central focus of negotiations, namely: what defines infrastructure?
Mr. Biden’s $2.3 billion American Jobs plan includes spending on home health aides, colleges and broadband in addition to more “traditional” infrastructure items like roads and bridges. Republicans have largely scoffed at this expansion of what falls under the infrastructure umbrella and want less spending overall.
This has become a point of contention in talks. After leaving the White House, Mr. McCarthy stated, “We first have to start with a definition of what is infrastructure. That’s not home health. That’s roads, bridges, highways, airports, broadband.”
At one point in negotiations, it appears the Democrats pushed the Republicans on a specific infrastructure proposal to fund a broad network of charging stations for electric cars (Mr. Biden’s plan proposes $174 billion in funding for electric vehicles), but the idea was met with little enthusiasm.
Taxes are Nonnegotiable
It has been made abundantly clear that Republicans will not support an infrastructure bill that raises taxes.
Both Mr. McCarthy and Mr. McConnell re-emphasized this with McConnell stating, “We’re not interested in reopening the 2017 tax bill. We both made that clear to the president. That’s our red line,” and McCarthy adding, “Raising taxes would be the biggest mistake you could make.”
Mr. Biden wants to pay for the infrastructure bill by raising taxes on corporations, which would reverse some of Trump’s 2017 tax cuts. Republicans want to pay for it by raising unspecified fees on people who use the infrastructure. Both sides agree they don’t want to borrow money to pay for new infrastructure investments.
Democrats and the White House are strongly against user fees funding infrastructure, and Mr. Biden told reporters doing so would mean “the burden falls on working-class folks who are having trouble.”
Is Bipartisanship Possible?
President Biden’s talks to negotiate the bill seem like an attempt to hold true to his campaign promise to seek bipartisan agreement on major political proposals.
As a reminder, Mr. Biden pushed his first legislative win (the $1.9 billion stimulus plan) through using a legislative maneuver known as reconciliation, allowing the bill to pass with only Democratic votes.
This time around, President Biden seems more intent on finding middle grounding, commenting:
When I ran I said I wasn’t going to be the Democratic president, I’m going to be the president for all Americans. But the bottom line here is, we’re going to see whether we can reach some consensus on a compromise.
After the meeting, Republican lawmakers said they thought the talks were productive, and Mr. McConnell noted that he hoped Senate committees would handle Mr. Biden’s proposal through “normal” legislative process, which would increase the chances of making a deal on the plan.
Democratic leaders also noted some small progress was made, with Speaker Pelosi stating, “It took us a few steps forward.”
And while steps forward are positive, Mr. Schumer made it clear he didn’t want to wait around for a compromise for an unlimited period of time, remarking:
We prefer to do things in a bipartisan way, and we’re going to keep pursuing that in a variety of different ways. But obviously we don’t want to make the mistake of 2009 and ’10 where the negotiations went on forever and then the Republicans didn’t join and we didn’t get much else done.
A statement from the White House after the meeting stressed the importance of avoiding partisan clashes:
The president also emphasized that whatever differences exist between the parties, the real competition is between the United States and the rest of the world, and that other countries are not waiting for us to equip our people to win in the 21st century.
Although both sides seemed to express a note of hope to reporters, Mr. McCarthy’s campaign team sent a text to supporters after the meeting which read, “I just met with Corrupt Joe Biden and he’s STILL planning to push his radical Socialist agenda onto the American people.”
Senator Shelley Moore Capito, Republican of West Virginia, has been tasked with the role of lead negotiator for Senate Republicans.
She and other Republicans are meeting with President Biden today to discuss their counter $568 billion plan, which excludes several elements in Biden’s plan, including funding for domestic manufacturing and elder care.
In the House, Speaker Pelosi has aimed to vote on a plan by July 4, but it is unclear if this timeline will translate to reality.
The Senate Finance committee stated on Wednesday that it would begin marking up infrastructure proposals this month, beginning with clean energy.
Will both sides be able to agree on enough to potentially break the infrastructure plan into two bills: one more “traditionally” focused on infrastructure and one more broadly focused on jobs and taxes?
Will compromise be reached, or will Democrats be forced to decide between inaction and partisan siding?
Only time will tell…
To a Richer Life,
The Rich Life Roadmap Team