The Senate Democrats’ 2,702-page, $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is “probably the greatest fiscal con job” that’s ever been perpetrated on the American public, contends Steve Hanke of John Hopkins University, a former member of President Ronald Reagan’s council of economic advisers.
Hanke, who was tasked by Reagan with evaluating all of his infrastructure proposals, argued in an interview Monday with CNBC that only about 25% of the bill “actually involves hard infrastructure,” meaning projects such as roads, bridges and water treatment plants. Secondly, he pointed out, the Congressional Budget Office found that one-fourth of the bill will not be paid for, requiring an increase in taxes.
Finally, he said, there’s “the elephant in the room.”
Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has declared she will kill the Senate’s bipartisan $1.2 trillion “infrastructure” bill unless the Senate also passes a $3.5 trillion “human infrastructure” bill that includes climate-change legislation and amnesty for illegal aliens.
Democrats have promised it will be the most “consequential piece of legislation” since the New Deal.
They plan to approve the $3.5 trillion bill without help from Republicans by using the budget reconciliation process, set aside for spending packages, allowing them to advance the bill to a final vote with only 51 votes instead of the usual 60.
The total “infrastructure” legislation then will approach $5 trillion, Hanke pointed out.
But it gets worse, the former Reagan adviser contended, noting past experience suggests cost overruns will triple the total cost, make the “real cost” $15 trillion.
He explained the concept of “excess burden,” in which it typically costs $3 to collect every dollar of tax revenue.
“So you have a monster facing the United States,” Hanke told CNBC. “It really is a total underestimate of what the burden actually will be.”
On Sunday, 18 Senate Republicans joined all 50 Democrats in a vote to halt debate on the $1.2 trillion package and move to a final simple-majority vote, which could take place as early as Tuesday morning.
See Hanke’s remarks:
A chief opponent of the $1.2 trillion deal, Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., said it “is about the woke political agenda of the left.”
Former President Trump has threatened to withhold support from any Republican who votes for the bill.
“It will be very hard for me to endorse anyone foolish enough to vote in favor of this deal,” he said in a statement Saturday. “Whether it’s the House or the Senate, think twice before you approve this terrible deal.”
President Biden on Saturday called it “a historic, once-in-a-generation investment in our nation’s infrastructure.”
“It will create good-paying, union jobs repairing our roads and bridges, replacing lead pipes and building energy transmission lines,” he said.
Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, one of the 18 Republicans who voted for cloture, called it a “win” for everyone.
“It’s a win for Republicans and it’s a win for Biden, it’s a win for Democrats, it’s a win for the Senate to say we can work together, that we’ve been able to overcome partisan differences to do something that’s right for America,” he said.
The Senate Republicans to invoke cloture were:
- Roy Blunt of Missouri
- Richard Burr of North Carolina
- Bill Cassidy of Louisiana
- Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia
- Susan Collins of Maine
- Kevin Cramer of North Dakota
- John Hoeven of North Dakota
- Mitch McConnell of Kentucky
- Lisa Murkowski of Arkansas
- Rob Portman of Ohio
- Jim Risch of Idaho
- Mitt Romney of Utah
- Thom Tillis of North Carolina
- Deb Fischer of Nebraska
- John Cornyn of Texas
- Roger Wicker of Mississippi
- Dan Sullivan of Alaska
- Mike Crapo of Idaho
Mississippi’s Wicker, who previously voted against advancing the legislation, voted in favor on Sunday, explaining on the Senate floor that the bill is “far from perfect,” but “at the end of the day, I believe this package will do a great service for the United States of America and a great service to my home state of Mississippi.”
Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., who previously voted to advance the bill, said in a statement Sunday he will vote no.
Facing reelection in 2022, Young said he’s been “working diligently with my colleagues toward a bipartisan infrastructure bill to provide crucial funding for our crumbling roads and bridges and to make targeted investments that yield positive long-term results in areas like broadband, ports, and airports.”
But he opposes the bill because of the “Democratic priorities” it contains.
He contests the CBO’s scoring of the legislation, but, in any case, he argues it increases the national debt and Speaker Nancy Pelosi insists on tying its passage “to the Democrats’ $3.5 trillion reckless tax-and-spend budget proposal.”
“Whether it is infrastructure or the Democrats’ reckless budget, we can’t afford to continue to grow the national debt at this pace, particularly as our economy recovers from the pandemic,” he said.
The $1.2 trillion package includes a pilot program for a national mile-driven tax, contradicting President Biden’s previous dismissal of the policy, the Washington Times reported. It would require the Department of Transportation to test the feasibility of taxing drivers for the number of miles they travel. The tax would be broad enough to target any “passenger motor vehicles,” including light and medium-to-heavy duty trucks.
‘Stealth’ Green New Deal
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, R-N.Y., citing a new U.N. report by climate scientists, said the $1.2 trillion package falls short, and reconciliation “is now our country’s best chance to help stop the worst effects of climate change.”
Marc Morano, editor of Climate Depot — a website that challenges the claim mankind is causing catastrophic climate change — warned Friday that Democrats are using the legislation as cover to advance a radical agenda.
“They don’t want an up or down vote on the Green New Deal in Congress, so they are slipping it into the ‘infrastructure’ bill,” he said. “Most Americans are not even aware that the Green New Deal is being stealthily implemented.”
Rep. Lauren Boebert. R-Colo., called it “Green New Deal Lite.”
“Editing the Green New Deal and calling it an infrastructure bill is one of the bigger scams pulled in the 8 months I’ve been in Congress,” she wrote on Twitter. “The American people see all of this & they’ve had enough. I represent the people & am leading the opposition against the Green New Deal Lite.”
Republican Sen. Bill Hagerty of Louisiana said via Twitter that Democrats’ “true intention is to rush this [infrastructure] bill through so that they can hurry up and light the fuse on their $3.5 trillion spending spree, a socialist debt bomb, then leave town for vacation.”
Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Ind., concurred.
“If you think Joe Biden is unpopular now, wait until voters get a good look at Biden’s budget — massive spending on amnesty, ‘environmental justice,’ destruction of the coal industry, critical race theory ‘investments’ — it’s the most radical left wing plan in American history,” he tweeted.
Free stuff and citizenship for illegal immigrants
Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer said Monday that prior to the month-long break, Democrats plan to pass an initial resolution that will present the $3.5 trillion package’s top-line numbers and priorities.
Once the resolution is passed, various Senate committees will begin drafting the package, the Washington Times reported.
“At its core, this legislation is about restoring the middle class in the 21st century and giving more Americans the opportunity to get there,” said Schumer. “By making education, health care, child care and housing more affordable, we can give tens of millions of families a leg up.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who describes himself as a democratic socialist, will oversee the reconciliation process.
He said Democrats must bypass Republicans to help working people.
“The $3.5 trillion [reconciliation bill] … will be the most consequential piece of legislation for working people, the elderly, the children, the sick and the poor since FDR and the New Deal of the 1930s,” Sanders said. “And yes, we will pass this budget with 51 votes, not 60, by passing it under the rules of reconciliation.”
Schumer’s office, the Washington Times reported, released a summary of the $3.5 trillion package, which includes:
- Free tuition at all community colleges.
- Money to create a civilian climate corps to put young Americans to work on green energy-related projects. Participants would be paid $15 an hour or more for weatherizing buildings, fighting forest fires and capping oil wells.
- An expansion of Obamacare and guaranteed paid family and medical leave to employees.
- A taxpayer-backed clean electricity standard that will give incentives to utilities to jettison coal and natural gas in favor of solar and wind power.
- Universal pre-kindergarten for 3- and 4-year-old children.
- Long-term care for seniors and the disabled. It also includes an expansion of Medicare benefits to cover hearing, dental and vision services.
- Money for homeowners to retrofit their properties to be in line with new climate change regulations.
- Investments in electric vehicles as well as money to transition the federal government away from using gas-powered cars.
- Repealing the $10,000 cap for the state and local tax deduction.
The package also provides a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants.
“We will bring undocumented people out of the shadows and provide them with a pathway to citizenship, including those who courageously kept our economy running in the middle of a deadly pandemic,” Sanders said.
The Times noted it’s unclear how that provision would fit the Senate’s rules for what can be included in budget reconciliation.
Democrats wants to repeal former President Donald Trump’s signature tax cuts to pay for the new spending.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said his panel is considering proposals to raise corporate and international taxes, and hike income taxes for high-income earners.
Democrats also want to increase the power of the IRS to crack down on tax scofflaws and institute a “carbon polluter import fee.”