The Democrats' uphill infrastructure bill battle

Although several Republicans and Democrats were on the Sunday shows this past weekend celebrating the $1.2-trillion "hard" infrastructure framework they apparently agreed on, it seems as if the bill still has a long way to go before it heads to President Biden's desk.

Why?  Because several Democrats, including House speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), have said the bill is a no-go unless it is tied to the gargantuan $3.5-trillion "soft" infrastructure bill also proposed by the spend-happy Biden administration.

In late June, Pelosi said, "Let me be really clear on this: We will not take up a bill in the House until the Senate passes the bipartisan bill and a reconciliation bill.  If there is no bipartisan bill, then we'll just go when the Senate passes a reconciliation bill."

Reiterating her stance, Pelosi added, "There ain't gonna be no bipartisan bill, unless we have a reconciliation bill.  As I said, there won't be an infrastructure bill, unless we have a reconciliation bill.  Plain and simple..."

Fast-forward six weeks, after Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) announced she would not support Biden's $3.5-trillion one-party reconciliation bill.

As her colleagues hailed the breakthrough negotiation on the $1.2-trillion infrastructure bill, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez chimed in with this shot across the bow aimed at her own party: "Good luck tanking your own party's investment on childcare, climate action, and infrastructure while presuming you'll survive a 3 vote House margin."

Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.), a new member of AOC's so-called Squad, added, "Without a reconciliation package that meets this moment, I'm a no on this bipartisan deal."

So it appears as if President Biden's $1.2-trillion bipartisan infrastructure deal could be in flux.

But could that be a good thing?

Well, if you care about inflation, America's out-of-control national debt, and the nation's post-pandemic recovery, the answer is a resounding "yes."

Consider.  Since the pandemic began, the U.S. federal government has printed/borrowed a mind-boggling $4.6 trillion for COVID-19 relief funds.  What's more, that unprecedented spending spree comes on top of the federal government's gargantuan $3.5-trillion annual budget.

Showering the economy with almost $5 trillion in "new spending" over the past 18 months is already creating inflation unseen in this country in decades.

It would be absolutely insane to print/borrow another $1.2 trillion for "hard" infrastructure as well as another $3.5 trillion for so-called "soft" infrastructure.

If Biden's $1.2-trillion bipartisan bill becomes law, expect inflation to creep up more.  If both bills are signed by President Biden, expect inflation to skyrocket.

Apart from the short-term boom in inflation that these behemoth bills would produce, they would also saddle future generations of Americans with the long-term costs.

And considering that our national debt is more than $28 trillion, it is downright immoral to spend lavishly today while passing the cost onto future generations.

It is also unsustainable.  According to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, "[e]ven under today's low rates, interest payments are the fifth-largest line-item on the federal budget, consuming nearly one-tenth of all federal revenue.  If rates and debt grow as projected, interest will ultimately become the single largest federal government line-item by 2045."

In other words, in about two decades, the federal government's interest payments on the national debt will surpass all other programs and departments.  That situation will only become worse as we print/borrow more money we do not have in the meantime.

Yet that is only part of the problem.  If the Biden administration somehow finagles both "infrastructure" bills through Congress, America's recovery from the pandemic will almost assuredly be less robust.

Why?  Because a primary focus of Biden's $3.5-trillion "soft/human" infrastructure plan is getting more Americans on the government dole.  From "free" college to "free" child care, Biden's reconciliation bill would make more Americans dependent on government.

It would also make Americans less productive and less willing to take entrepreneurial risks.  That is what happens when government handouts become the norm.  Innovation is stifled.  And we all are worse off because of it.

Suffice to say, it would be a blessing if both bills are torpedoed due to the left's intra-party conflict.  As with most things in life, time will tell.

Chris Talgo (ctalgo@heartland.org) is senior editor at The Heartland Institute.

Image: Pxfuel.

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