Biden has produced a visionary $2 trillion plan that leaves few of the nation’s most pressing problems unaddressed. You can argue about how far he goes. But unlike Republican and Democratic presidents and Congresses of the recent past, that old guy from Delaware, says this octogenarian, has the guts to try — thank goodness.
Highways, bridges and roads in need of reconstruction. Public transit systems crying out for modernization. Airports, Amtrak and the nation’s freight system wanting investment. An absent national network of electric-car chargers. Climate measures and clean infrastructure needed in disadvantaged communities. These are all action items in the Biden plan.
Billions more would be devoted to building and rehabilitating homes for low- and middle-income buyers, investments in public housing, upgrading schools and child-care facilities, modernizing Veterans Affairs hospitals and clinics, plugging oil and gas wells, laying transmission lines, and extending high-speed broadband to new areas. Is anything left out?
Oh, yes, seniors, people with disabilities and nursing home residents will get greater access to home- or community-based care. Caretakers will be better taken care of, too. The jobs creation and industrial-development features of the plan are sweeping.
The taxpayers are not left out of the picture.
Biden’s plan of $2 trillion in new spending over eight years and paid for over 15 years rests upon the federal treasury, of course. The money comes from raising the corporate tax rate from 21 percent to 28 percent, increasing the global minimum corporate tax, ending tax breaks for coal companies and tightening loopholes.
Congressional Republicans, while predictably crying crocodile tears, are pumping themselves up to a rage of opposition stoked by well-off business groups and people fattened by the 2017 Trump tax cuts.
The votes are there, however, to enact the White House proposals, including climate and clean infrastructure investments — provided congressional Democrats in their paper-thin majority remain unified. Without their full backing, Biden’s blueprint for rebuilding America’s future will be torn to pieces by Trump, still the de facto leader of the GOP, and his coterie of obstructionists.
That outcome, unfortunately, looms on the horizon. Here’s an inkling.
With congressional Republicans voicing united opposition to Biden’s spending package, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) dismissively declared on Twitter, “This is not nearly enough.”
Indeed, the Biden plan falls short of the $2 trillion in investments over four years that he called for in the 2020 campaign. And yes, Biden’s proposal does not address all of the backlog of road, bridge, rail and transit repairs that are needed. But no one can doubt that the $2 trillion plan takes the country well beyond existing crumbling infrastructure. It’s also a plan that would not even be on the table had Trump been reelected.
If grumbling progressives were not enough, three House Democrats — Thomas Suozzi (N.Y.), Bill Pascrell Jr. (N.J.) and Josh Gottheimer (N.J.) — have already announced their opposition to the Biden package because it doesn’t remove the cap on state and local tax deductions imposed by a Republican Congress in enacting the 2017 Trump tax cuts.
Trump and the Republican National Committee are no doubt a-hopin’ and a-prayin’ that Suozzi, Pascrell and Gottheimer stick to their guns and stick it to Biden. The GOP is also counting on progressive Democrats such as Ocasio-Cortez to stay true to their leftward leanings and hold out for politically unachievable results.
Again, a Biden defeat is a Trump-GOP win.
And a Republican victory spells defeat for deep-blue states such as New York and New Jersey.
The Otto von Bismarck quote recently cited by Biden is apt: “Politics is the art of the possible, the attainable, the art of the next best.”
Do Democrats want to get through Congress the best they can get at the moment? Or will they choose sanctimony and the defeat that it will bring?
The power to help Biden rebuild the nation is within their grasp. If they don’t tear themselves apart.
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