Commentary

While the GOP carps about Biden’s infrastructure plan, voters already are saying ‘Yes, please’

It’s only reasonable to ask: What do Republicans support?

April 9, 2021 1:52 pm

President Joe Biden talks to members of the press in the State Dining Room of the White House on March 2, 2021, after delivering remarks during a COVID-19 announcement. (Adam Schultz/The White House)

This commentary first appeared in Newsline sister outlet the Pennsylvania Capital-Star.

Here’s a quiz for the Republican politicians among you, check as many as apply.

Do you support:

  • Repairing and rebuilding America’s deteriorating network of roads and bridges, including the interstate highway system brought to life by GOP President Dwight D. Eisenhower?
  • Ensuring that every American public student isn’t drinking water out of lead pipes and doesn’t attend class in buildings riddled with toxic chemicals?
  • Giving every American access to reliable and affordable broadband internet service?
  • Making sure that America’s electric grid is reliable so there’s not a repeat of the debacle in Texas?
  • Building up the nation’s electric vehicle infrastructure so that we can continue the pivot away from fossil fuels, all the better to hand a cleaner environment to our children, and to their children after them?

Because, guess what Republican members of Congress? When it comes to all of the above, Americans are way ahead of you.

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As The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin noted Thursday, a Politico-Morning Consult poll finds that 6 in 10 respondents favor President Joe Biden’s sweeping, $2 trillion infrastructure package. And support for individual items within the plan is even higher, with 77% favoring modernizing highways and roads. Majorities even support items not traditionally thought of as infrastructure issues: 80% support refurbishing Veterans Affairs hospitals and improving caregiving (76%), Rubin wrote.

More than 7 in 10 respondents (71%) to a Reuters-Ipsos poll “supported a plan to extend high-speed internet to all Americans (and) 68% supported an initiative to replace every lead pipe in the country,” Rubin noted.

And when it comes to Biden’s plan to pay for it all by increasing corporate taxes, yep, Americans are down for that, too, according to the Politico-Morning Consult poll, with “sixty-five percent of registered voters (saying) they strongly or somewhat support funding Biden’s infrastructure plan through 15 years of higher taxes on corporations, while 21 percent somewhat or strongly oppose it.”

Republicans on Capitol Hill, meanwhile, have blasted the plan, with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) calling it a “Trojan horse,” that will result in “more borrowed money and massive tax increases on all the productive parts of our economy,” according to Roll Call.

Putting aside the sheer hilarity of McConnell’s sudden concern about fiscal responsibility after he supported adding $1 trillion to $2 trillion to the national debt with the Trump tax cut, the Senate GOP leader nonetheless added that he thought there was enough room in the horse’s saddlebags for a bridge in his home state, Roll Call reported.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) leaves the Senate chamber during a brief recess during the impeachment trial proceedings at the U.S. Capitol. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Another Republican, U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady, of Texas, the ranking GOP member of the powerful House Ways & Means Committee, dismissed Biden’s plan as a “sugar high,” according to Roll Call.

And U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, of Pennsylvania, the ranking member of the Senate Banking Committee and tax-and-spending hawk, said that while he believes “we can and should do more to rebuild our nation’s physical infrastructure,” Biden’s plan would “(undo) large portions of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. That 2017 tax reform helped create the best American economy of my lifetime.”

So if the GOP is against all the things that the American public so clearly favors, it’s only reasonable to ask what they support.

Some of the more immediate answers appear to be turning the reins of the party over to Trump loyalists who deny the reality of the Capitol insurrection and who propagate the myth of the stolen election. They fight make-believe culture wars over Dr. Seuss books. And they’re doing all they can to push racist voter suppression bills over the goal line.

“The GOP remains a cult of personality for the worst president in U.S. history. It has become a bastion of irrationality, conspiracy mongering, racism, nativism and anti-scientific prejudices,” the Post’s Max Boot wrote in a separate column this week.

The White House, knowing the public is with them, is moving on without the GOP, by teeing up the infrastructure bill for approval through the parliamentary maneuver known as budget reconciliation, which would not require Republican support.

On Wednesday, Biden forcefully rebutted the GOP criticisms, saying “the idea of infrastructure has always evolved to meet the aspirations of the American people and their needs. And it is evolving again today.” He also left the door open to compromise, even as Republicans contort themselves to oppose spending and a vision of government they once embraced: An America that thinks and builds big.

So, I’ll try to frame the choice confronting the GOP in the only language they seem to understand:

What would you do if it were 2022?
Would you stomp and fidget at the chance to build bridges?
Would you stick a cork in a bottomless container of government pork?
Would you play pointless games of political chess, while your voters say “Yes! Yes! Yes!”?
Would you continue to bloviate and obfuscate with speeches of great sonority while slipping further into the minority?
What would you DO if it were 2022?

American voters already have spoken. So don’t be surprised if they just turn the page on the Party of No.

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John L. Micek
John L. Micek

John L. Micek is the editor-in-chief of Colorado Newsline sister outlet Pennsylvania Capital-Star.

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