Beware of Infrastructure Bill signing ceremony
Democrats claim that the bill will "supercharge the American economy and will create thousands of good jobs." Translation: high-paying government — i.e., taxpayer paid for — jobs for Democrat supporters.
When you look beyond the title, H.R. 3684 has numerous provisions that Americans don't want.
The bill will "restructure the permitting process." This is an excuse to expand an already Byzantine, massively expensive, and user-unfriendly federal bureaucracy. Permits will go only to companies favored by progressive Democrats. Recall that the vendor chosen by the Obama administration to build healthcare.gov was a Canadian company, CGI Federal, with a track record of going over budget and failing to deliver on its contracts. Democrats spent more than $2 billion on a website that didn't work!
There will be "more public-private partnerships," which is code for giving hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars to corporations that support the Democrat party and its candidates, not to the most efficient and lowest bidders.
H.R. 3864 will extend the reach of broadband internet access, especially to rural America, where such access can be spotty or absent. However, this activity is better done — better coverage at lower cost — using the free market than federal procurement, which is famous for delays, inefficiency, and over-spending.
Of the $1.2-trillion probably underestimated price tag, less than 10 percent — $110 billion — will fund true infrastructure: bridges, roads, tunnels, and waterways. This will be billions as political patronage. Companies that contributed to the Democrat party will build out the projects late and at inflated prices. If things go wrong, there will be no accountability.
Washington will expend hundreds of billions on green energy, and most will be wasted. Recall the Solyndra example, when Washington awarded $570 million to a start-up with no track record or proof of concept for its promised super-efficient cylindrical solar panels. Solyndra took the money, produced nothing, and promptly went bankrupt, laying off 1,100 employees. Washington wasted more than half a billion taxpayer dollars, giving the money to a green energy political ally that private venture capital would never have given a dime.
Health care has no place in an infrastructure bill. Yet two such provisions are embedded in H.R. 3684, both of which reduce Americans' access to care.
H.R. 3864 will restore a 2-percent cut in reimbursements to Medicare providers, on top of all the other federal payments reductions. By once again cutting provider payments, Democrats further restrict access to desperately needed medical care, just as the Affordable Care Act did.
In 2009, before Obamacare, the average maximum wait time to see a primary care physician was an unacceptable 99 days. In 2017, as a result of ACA payment cuts to providers, wait times had increased to an unconscionable 175 days. With a further cut in payments by H.R. 3864, wait times could become years rather than months.
A second health care provision buried in the $1.2-trillion infrastructure bill delays implementation of the Medicare Part D Rebate Rule, a Trump-era rule that would inject competitive forces into the market for prescription drugs. Just like payment cuts, by delaying this rule, desperately needed drugs will remain unaffordable and therefore unavailable.
Americans have learned a bitter lesson about Democrat promises. They often sound great, but the reality is usually the opposite of great. This is true for their latest magnum opus, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. This pork-laden bill will deliver just what the public doesn't want and what the country doesn't need.
Keep these facts in mind as President Biden holds his big signing ceremony, and haltingly reads grandiose, ghostwritten, totally unrealistic rhetoric from a teleprompter.
Deane Waldman, M.D., MBA is professor emeritus of pediatrics, pathology, and decision science; former director of the Center for Healthcare Policy at Texas Public Policy Foundation; and author of the multi-award-winning book Curing the Cancer in U.S. Healthcare: StatesCare and Market-Based Medicine.
Photo credit: YouTube screen grab, cropped.
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