The Republican counteroffer is not even close to President Joe Biden's proposed compromise of $1.7 trillion.
Senate Republicans unveiled their latest counteroffer to President Joe Biden's American Jobs Plan on Thursday. Like their initial offer, it was a fraction of what Biden is asking for — and far less than meets the eye.
Their new proposal, framed as "near $1 trillion over an eight year period of time," would provide $928 billion in spending on transportation, water, and broadband infrastructure. It would provide almost no funding for Biden's other priorities, such as clean energy, climate, child care, and caregiving infrastructure.
"Senate Republicans continue to negotiate in good faith," the bill's lead author, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) said at a press conference. "We believe that this counter offer delivers on what President Biden told us in the Oval Office."
Biden initially proposed an investment of $2.25 trillion in new infrastructure spending. Last Friday, he offered to cut that by a quarter, proposing $1.7 trillion in new investments.
But a closer look at the numbers offered by Capito and her GOP colleagues reveals that the vast majority of the money they are offering is "baseline spending," or spending that has already been allocated at existing levels, adjusted for inflation. Their plan calls for just $257 billion in new infrastructure spending, 15% of Biden's compromise request and 11% of what he asked for initially.
Capito and her group initially proposed what they termed a $568 billion "robust package" containing things they considered real infrastructure. But that plan offered just $189 billion in new investment beyond existing baselines, or 92% less than Biden's request.
Polls have consistently shown strong support for Biden's plan — and for the tax increases on corporations that would fund it. The Republican proposal would be funded in large part by using funds already appropriated for COVID-19 relief and adding new user fees that could impact people with lower incomes.
At the press conference, Capito repeated the argument that the GOP plan is better because it sticks to the core physical infrastructure that she thinks is "what the American people think of when they think of infrastructure."
But surveys have shown the public backs both the climate and the caregiving infrastructure provisions — the ones the GOP thinks should be omitted based on their dictionary definition of infrastructure.
With just a $68 billion increase over her last proposal in new investments, it is unlikely that this latest offer will do much to close what Capito admitted Wednesday was a "big gap."
If Democrats stick together, they can pass a package without a single Republican vote.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.