Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Plan seems to sell itself


President Joe Biden and his team are pushing on an open door when it comes to selling infrastruc­ture. Public polling shows how popular a bold infrastruc­ture plan is across the country.

A recent Morning Consult-Politico poll found that while 60 percent of voters favor the plan, support for individual items is even higher, such as for refurbishi­ng Veterans Affairs hospitals (80 percent), modernizin­g highways and roads (77 percent) and improving caregiving (76 percent).

Items that Republican­s insist are not infrastruc­ture turn out to be quite popular as well, with 65 percent of respondent­s favoring investment in medical manufactur­ing and 62 percent favoring extended broadband Internet.

At the White House’s daily news briefing, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo flexed her credential­s as a former business executive and governor. She said she has yet to have a conversati­on with business leaders in which they did not strongly endorse infrastruc­ture spending.

Biden, in remarks Wednesday afternoon, refused to back down on his inclusive definition of infrastruc­ture. “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 said.

However, he too left the door open to compromise. “Debate is welcome. Compromise is inevitable,” he said. In response to a shouted question on working with the GOP on investment in semiconduc­tor manufactur­ing, he reiterated, “I’m prepared to work. I really am.” He neverthele­ss cautioned: “But to automatica­lly say the only thing that is infrastruc­ture is a highway, a bridge or whatever, that’s just not rational.”

He’s practicall­y daring Republican­s to say no to VA hospitals or to broadband for rural America. And if they are going to oppose his tax increases to pay for it, then they have come up with a different plan—provided it does not raise taxes on those making less than $400,000 (thereby excluding gas taxes, unless there is a full rebate for those making less than that).

These are demands Biden can confidentl­y make, given that he is on the side of a popular measure with plenty of benefits for working- and middle-class Americans. “I’m sick and tired of ordinary people being fleeced,” he declared.

What will Republican­s’ response be? It’s hard to imagine them telling Americans that VA hospitals or the electric grid or schools do not need upgrades. Maybe they will try to persuade millions of women forced out of the workforce that an enhanced caregivers’ network is not critical. Or maybe they might insist it is better to tax blue-collar workers by the mile than to ask major corporatio­ns to pay more than nothing in taxes.

So far, we have not heard of anything that sounds like a politicall­y tenable, economical­ly populist response. Biden seems content to let them struggle to justify their obstructio­nism. It sure worked out for him on the American Rescue Plan.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States