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Republicans are pretending 'infrastructure' only means roads and bridges

They’re conveniently forgetting that the definition of infrastructure includes energy, water, housing, transportation, and communications systems, too.

By Donna Provencher - April 01, 2021
Gov. Kristi Noem

Republicans are criticizing President Joe Biden’s new jobs and infrastructure proposal, rolled out on Wednesday by the White House, for including spending on line items like energy and clean water initiatives — and falsely claiming that only roads and bridges should be included in an infrastructure plan.

“While President Biden marketed himself as a bipartisan bridge builder who would unify the country, in reality only 5% of his massive $2.3 trillion partisan infrastructure proposal goes to actually building bridges, roads, and highways,” Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-MI) tweeted on Thursday.

The $2 trillion infrastructure plan, the American Jobs Plan, includes allocations for both transportation ($621 billion) infrastructure and domestic infrastructure ($650 billion). It also includes $580 billion for research and development, including support for the manufacturing sector, and $400 billion to support the caretaking of disabled and elderly Americans.

Other Republicans also took to Twitter to slam the bill for including funding for infrastructure items besides roads and bridges.

South Dakota Republican Gov. Kristi Noem said of Biden’s plan on Fox News Tuesday night, “I was shocked by how much doesn’t go into infrastructure. It goes into research and development, it goes into housing and pipes and different initiatives, green energy.”

“Biden’s $2.3 trillion “infrastructure” plan is simply a repackaged Green New Deal, & less than 6% even goes to roads & bridges,” tweeted Rep. Jerry Carl (R-AL).

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) tweeted Thursday, “Joe Biden should have released his ‘Infrastructure’ plan today on #AprilFoolsDay. Less than 6% of the massive $2 Trillion dollar so called Infrastructure plan actually goes to roads, bridges, and highways. The joke is on the American People.”

Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) tweeted, “President Biden’s infrastructure plan looks more like the Green New Deal than a serious plan to fix our roads and bridges. Reckless spending financed by trillions of dollars in tax hikes is one heck of a way to ‘build back better.'”

According to a Media Matters report, Fox News is also touting the false narrative that only roads and bridges are infrastructure.

Anchor Bill Hemmer asked Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on Thursday why very little funding was “dedicated to roads and bridges,” and complained that funding was instead going toward “electric grid improvements, broadband, water systems, and on and on it goes.”

Buttigieg responded that infrastructure includes not only roads and bridges in modern society, but these other initiatives as well, giving the example of the recent cold-weather crisis in Texas.

He said:

Well, we’re talking about roads and bridges. We’re talking about rail and transit. We’re talking about airports and ports.  As you mentioned, we’re talking about things like the grid. I don’t know why anybody would say it’s a mistake to invest in the grid after what we just witnessed in Texas. We saw U.S. citizens living in Texas, melting snow in their bathtubs to be able to flush their toilets — in the United States of America. That is unacceptable. So yes, infrastructure includes energy infrastructure.

Biden’s plan includes $115 billion to rebuild bridges and roads and $85 billion to update public transit systems. It also allots $42 billion for airports and ports to update airport terminals and water transit, as well as $80 billion to support passenger and freight rail systems. And it includes $174 billion to fund grant and incentive programs for the development of an electric vehicle network.

Its domestic proposals include $213 billion to build or restore housing for low- or middle-income Americans and $111 billion toward clean water initiatives like replacing lead piping, and $137 billion to build and repair schools and community colleges. It also would provide $100 billion toward electrical infrastructure and $100 billion toward expanding broadband access.

The plan has also drawn scrutiny from Republicans because its wide scope of services would be paid for by raising taxes on corporations and the highest-income Americans.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has vowed to fight the plan at all costs, saying Thursday, “I’m going to fight them [Democrats] every step of the way, because I think this is the wrong prescription for America.”

And according to a new Morning Consult/Politico poll, 81% of Americans are in favor of the robust infrastructure plan, with 54% of voters supporting it alongside tax increases to fund it, and an additional 27% supporting it with no tax increases.

Nearly one-third of Republicans, or 32%, support the plan with accompanying tax increases, and another 42% support it with no tax increases.

Nearly half of those surveyed reported they would be more likely to support the plan if paid for by a hike in corporate tax rates, with 57% claiming they would be more likely to support if it’s funded by raising the taxes of Americans with incomes over $400,000 a year.

But Republicans continue to malign the bill while intentionally misrepresenting what infrastructure means.

“The Biden ‘infrastructure plan’ is not about improving America’s infrastructure,” tweeted Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC). “It’s yet another Trojan horse for the far Left’s agenda.”

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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