It doesn't even come close to covering the ground the American Jobs Plan does.
Senate Republicans countered President Joe Biden's $2.25 trillion jobs package last week with what they called a $568 billion plan focused on traditional infrastructure. But a new analysis reveals that the GOP alternative really would only provide about $189 billion more than the status quo.
Biden's American Jobs Plan would provide billions in new investments in roads, bridges, water systems, broadband, transit, child care, caregiving, and clean energy.
Though polling shows more than two-thirds of Americans back Biden's proposals and strongly support all of its major provisions, Congressional Republicans have attacked this plan as "socialism" and complained that the climate and human infrastructure provisions in the bill do not match up with their definition of the word "infrastructure."
After promising a counter-proposal focused narrowly on more traditional infrastructure, with a budget targeted in the "sweet spot" of between $600 billion to $800 billion, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) unveiled her party's plan on Thursday. She proposed spending just $568 billion for transportation, water systems, and broadband, and nothing for green energy, combating climate change, housing, child care, or caregiving. She said the plan — also backed by GOP Sens. John Barrasso (WY), Mike Crapo (ID), Pat Toomey (PA), and Roger Wicker (MS) — was a "robust package" and a "good starting point" for negotiations with Biden.
At face value, that plan appeared to be about 25% of Biden's proposal. Capito told Fox News on Friday that if you ignore all of the omitted priorities, it was not all that different from the American Jobs Plan.
"I think if you took the president's plan — his $2.2 trillion plan — and you really pulled out those areas of physical core infrastructure that we think is critically important, and you matched it, apples to apples, we're not nearly as far apart as it might seem," she claimed. "I mean, we are far apart, but not nearly to a trillion, trillions of dollars." The two bills cover a different number of years, making an exact comparison difficult.
But a Washington Post analysis on Monday revealed that Capito's bill isn't even close on the common priorities. The Post noted that while Biden's plan calls for additional spending, Capito's numbers include $379 billion in baseline spending that would happen already, adjusted for inflation. Instead of spending $360 billion on traditional surface transportation, as would likely happen with no bill, the GOP plan would spend $393 billion — an increase of just $33 billion.
"In all, it looks like the GOP plan would add $189 billion to the baseline of current spending," the Post concluded, "compared to Biden's $785 billion for the same line items."
A separate opinion piece published by the Post on Monday noted that this $189 billion increase represents only about 24% of what Biden proposes for those areas the GOP calls "core" infrastructure. It also makes up just 8% of what Biden is proposing in overall new spending — a rather large gap.
A Capito spokesperson did not immediately respond to an inquiry for this story.
But Kevin DeGood, director of infrastructure policy at the Center for American Progress, said in an email that the GOP plan offers little to no new spending beyond the status quo, except for on aviation and broadband. "Calling Senator Capito's plan an alternative is a farce," he observed.
With narrow majorities in the House and Senate, if Democrats stay united they could pass Biden's plan without a single GOP vote.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.