Infrastructure Bill Passes! Dems in Array?

Three days late, $1.2 billion long.

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Months after agreeing to a “bipartisan” infrastructure bill, Congress has finally passed it and President Biden has signed it.

CNN:

Congress has passed a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, delivering on a major pillar of President Joe Biden’s domestic agenda after months of internal deliberations and painstaking divisions among Democrats.The final vote was 228-206. Thirteen Republicans voted with the majority of Democrats in support of the bill, though six Democrats voted against it.The bill now heads to the President’s desk to be signed into law, following hours of delays and internal debating among Democrats on Friday, including calls from Biden to persuade skeptical progressive members of the Democratic caucus.

The legislation passed the Senate in August, but was stalled in the House as Democrats tried to negotiate a deal on a separate $1.9 trillion economic package, another key component of Biden’s agenda that many Democrats had tied to the fate of the infrastructure bill.

The legislation will deliver $550 billion of new federal investments in America’s infrastructure over five years, including money for roads, bridges, mass transit, rail, airports, ports and waterways. The package includes a $65 billion investment in improving the nation’s broadband infrastructure, and invests tens of billions of dollars in improving the electric grid and water systems. Another $7.5 billion would go to building a nationwide network of plug-in electric vehicle chargers, according to the bill text.

Biden called House Speaker Nancy Pelosi just before midnight to congratulate her on the passage of the infrastructure bill, a source familiar with the call tells CNN. On the call, Pelosi thanked Biden for his help in getting the bill over the finish line as well.

It’s notable that this finally came three days after a bad day in the off-year elections. Granting that it’s not terribly unusual for the President’s party to lose ground in such contests and that there are multiple explanations for why it happened this go-around, Democrats across the country have been complaining about the inability of their team in DC to get anything done. Now, almost immediately after the election, they pass a measure likely to be almost universally popular.

Alas, the sticking point had been that progressive Dems refused to vote for a package they very much wanted unless they also got a package that there weren’t enough votes for.

Going into Friday, Pelosi said it was her intention to vote on final passage of the infrastructure bill and the economic package known as the Build Back Better Act. Instead, early Saturday morning, the House passed the rule that will govern debate on the Build Back Better Act on a party-line vote, before adjourning for a week-long committee work period.

But previously expressing confidence that two bills would pass on Friday, Pelosi indicated in the afternoon that they would solely move the infrastructure bill amid push back from moderates that the separate economic agenda bill needs an official cost estimate from the Congressional Budget Office, a process that could take about two weeks.

After hours of negotiating, the House finally moved forward to send the infrastructure bill to Biden’s desk, despite opposition from progressives who had warned that they would sink the infrastructure bill if it moved ahead without the separate economic package.

Throughout Friday, progressives made clear that both bills must move in tandem, and they have pushed that if the $1.9 trillion dollar bill is delayed then the infrastructure bill should be voted on at the same time.

The party had been struggling for months to unite its moderate and progressive wings to enact the President’s agenda, but those efforts had repeatedly stalled out, delivering a series of blows to congressional Democrats and the White House. The party had already had to punt on voting on the infrastructure bill twice in two months due to a separate set of demands from progressives. Biden has gotten personally involved, visiting the Hill twice to rally Democrats, and working the phones with moderates this week. That has still not resolved the impasse.

So, why now? What broke the logjam?

Ahead of the infrastructure vote, a group of moderates that represented key holdouts on the social spending package issued a statement detailing their commitments to vote for the social spending bill, which was aimed at getting progressives on board to support the infrastructure bill.

Shortly after, Congressional Progressive Caucus Chairwoman Pramila Jayapal released a statement saying that the caucus had reached a deal with fellow Democrats to vote on the infrastructure bill Friday night, abandoning a key tenant of their position, which was to only vote for the infrastructure bill when the social spending bill also would receive a final vote.

Even though Jayapal’s statement brought a significant number of progressives onboard, there were still six progressive holdouts who stuck to their original plan of voting against infrastructure until the social spending plan also received a final vote. The brokered deal between Jayapal and moderates did peel off a significant number of progressives from the vote down infrastructure camp, as that number was as high as 20 at one point during the day on Friday.

This is a classic case of the perfect being the enemy of the good. But does this mean that Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema are aboard on some version of the other bill that progressives will also support? Because, if not, I don’t understand the turnaround. And nothing in the report even mentions anyone in the Senate.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, NRO editor Philip Klein declares “Disgraceful House Republicans Rescue Biden’s Flailing Agenda.”

Just before midnight on Friday, we witnessed an utterly disgraceful act by a group of 13 House Republicans. Given the chance to deal a severe blow to President Biden’s flailing agenda, they instead rescued him by providing Speaker Nancy Pelosi with the votes she needed to overcome resistance from the far Left of her party.

For months, Biden’s multi-trillion dollar domestic agenda has been mired in problems. Democrats are dealing with disagreements among the extremely liberal and less liberal wings of the party, and narrow majorities have left leadership with little margin for error.

Their goal has been to pass trillions of dollars of new spending at a time when debt as a share of the economy is at historic levels rivaled only by the fight against World War II. The strategy all along was for Democrats to win over some Republicans to their cause by creating a charade that their agenda was actually divided into two parts: a physical infrastructure bill, and a sweeping social-welfare bill.

For months, Democrats have been battling amongst themselves, with some members more attached to the infrastructure bill and others more attached to the social-welfare bill. But ultimately, time and again, it has become clear that the two bills were inextricably linked, and would rise and fall together.

[…]

This is a substantively bad decision that is political malpractice. It represents a betrayal.

The federal government already spends more than enough on infrastructure to meet our needs and the COVID-19 bailout money left many states awash in cash. Despite promises, only a small portion of the bill focuses on traditional infrastructure such as fixing roads and bridges and the legislation (soon to be law) will add $256 billion to deficits. It will also help grease the wheels for the passage of the larger multi-trillion welfare bill that will expand Medicare and Obamacare, initiate a federal takeover of preschool and child care, and impose economically devastating tax increases on individuals and businesses.

Politically, it’s unclear what Republicans are thinking. Biden entered this week reeling from a devastating rebuke of his presidency by voters in areas of the country thought to be reliably Democratic. He headed into the 2022 election year a wounded animal, and Republicans stood to make major gains. Now, they tossed him a life raft and allowed him to put bipartisan gloss on his radical agenda.

Every Republican who voted for this monstrosity who is not already retiring should be primaried and defeated by candidates who will actually resist the Left-wing agenda. Those who are retiring should be shamed for the rest of their lives. It also is not too soon to be asking whether Representative Kevin McCarthy should be ousted from leadership for his inability to keep his caucus together on such a crucial vote.

One can, I suppose, debate whether we need a massive investment in our infrastructure or whether the amount is too much. But treating all of these votes as mere political games, with the only thing mattering is how it impacts the next election, is how we got into the current mess to begin with.

Yes, this is a big “win” for Biden. But the package will be popular with most Republican voters. And while I agreed that a “bipartisan” bill that was contingent on ramming the less popular measures through on reconciliation would seem to undermine the spirit of compromise, the fact of the matter is that passing this bill first actually makes it much less likely that the other package gets through. Indeed, that’s why the progressive caucus was so insistent on linkage.

FILED UNDER: Congress, Joe Biden, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Matt Bernius says:

    Thank you to Brandon and team for getting this done.

    9
  2. alanstorm says:

    One can, I suppose, debate whether we need a massive investment in our infrastructure or whether the amount is too much.

    If more than a tiny percentage of this had to do with actual infrastructure, you might have a point. Unfortunately, it doesn’t, so you don’t.

  3. Sleeping Dog says:

    Noted that the Dem opposition is the Squad, now up to 5 members with Corri Bush on board. If the progressive caucus is going to have the effect that the Freedom Caucus has on the R’s, then it needs more members. Having lived in Ms. Bush’s district, I’m well aware of the hundreds of infrastructure projects that can use this money, but she opposed it for the chimera of package that wouldn’t and now, probably won’t happen.

    1
  4. James Joyner says:

    @alanstorm: No, this bill is almost exclusively what most of us would call “infrastructure.” The social spending that was being touted as part of the original infrastructure bill has been split off into the other package that Manchin and Synema are refusing to vote for.

    16
  5. Matt Bernius says:

    I thought this analysis on the deal making and compromise was quite astute:

    https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1456956761919959045.html

    1
  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Meanwhile, NRO editor Philip Klein declares “Disgraceful House Republicans Rescue Biden’s Flailing Agenda.”

    used to be we could have horse trading that led to win/win bills where everyone got something. PK found those days to be abhorrent i guess.

    7
  7. James Joyner says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Exactly. The point of winning elections is to govern, not merely to set the stage for the next election. Otherwise, what’s the damn point?

    15
  8. Scott F. says:

    @James Joyner:

    Otherwise, what’s the damn point?

    Massive tax cuts (through reconciliation BTW) and ramming through judges.

    Haven’t you been paying attention? 🙂

    12
  9. Stormy Dragon says:

    @James Joyner:

    No, this bill is almost exclusively what most of us would call “infrastructure.”

    Corporate give aways?

    1
  10. Stormy Dragon says:

    So I guess Manchin and Sinema won and the BBB is dead now?

    1
  11. gVOR08 says:

    So basically the progressives folded, accepting that they’ll never get Sinemanchin on board for the reconciliation bill without huge cuts. Necessary, but regrettable

    This has been another chapter in the long term standoff, with GOPs confident Ds will fold. Because Ds want to govern responsibly and Rs just want to win the politics. Manchin is acting like a Republican here, I suspect because of a large pile of basically Republican money. When Biden called the progressives to ask them to do him a favor and take one for the team, I hope they each asked what he was going to do for them, and got a good answer.

    5
  12. OzarkHillbilly says:

    I HAVE NO REASON TO THINK this is anything other than true but looking it up left handed… fuhgeddaboudit

    Stephanie Ruhle
    @SRuhle
    ·
    14h
    LEFT OUT OF THE BILL-

    The billionaire tax provision

    It would have raised over $500bn from 700ish of the richest people in the country (who I assure you, are legal tax avoiding olympians)

    Dems win & lose
    Rs win & lose
    Mega Rich always WIN

    5
  13. Lounsbury says:

    @gVOR08: The capacity of the Left to always anything less than total victory as a defeat is really quite interesting.

    Rather than celebrating what you got (and drawing attention to the fact Trump never achieved such, the Left prefers to self-convince they achieved nada).

    Moderately competent marketing and a modest sense of work-a-day realism would make this a huge victory. The National Review attack on the House Republicans who joined in voting should be enough of a hint that this is not in fact a victory for them.

    13
  14. Matt Bernius says:

    @gVOR08:
    I suggest reading the analysis I posted above (https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1456956761919959045.html) by a former progressive congressperson.

    His take is everyone compromised and got some wins out of this… Including both the PCP and the Squad.

    I also think we will see the BBB pass in the next week or two. It’s definitely not a done deal, but things are looking positive.

    4
  15. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Lounsbury:
    It’s the gap between an idealized world and real life, youthful passion vs. weary realism.

    Also, we have a generation who’ve spent their entire lives online where anything is just a click away, and a three second delay is intolerable. Where would they have learned patience? It’s taken me many decades to accept (or at least recognize) that the world moves much, much, muuuuuch more slowly than I’d like, and I’m old.

    4
  16. Michael Reynolds says:

    BTW @James, it’s trillion with a. T. No one even counts billions anymore. No self-respecting Senator would bother bending down to pick up a loose billion on the Senate chamber floor. Though most would bend over for 10 grand from a lobbyist.

    4
  17. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Matt Bernius:

    I also think we will see the BBB pass in the next week or two. It’s definitely not a done deal, but things are looking positive.

    From Biden himself:

    Asked if the moderates had assured him they will vote for the Build Back Better bill, Biden says: “I’m not going to answer that question… but I feel confident we will have enough votes”— Jeff Stein (@JStein_WaPo) November 6, 2021

    Now that BIF has passed, BBB is dead. There’s was no deal and Manchin and Sinema have no reason to support anything now, and anyone pretending otherwise is just trying to avoid having to admit they surrendered because getting something done was more important than getting anything done.

    5
  18. Joe says:

    @Matt Bernius: One notable difference between Brandon and the former guy is that Brandon is not phased by the fact it took months to get this done and he will continue to push the BBB even if it takes months more where as the FG could not even focus on anything for more than a second – infrastructure week, anyone?

    6
  19. Matt Bernius says:

    @Lounsbury:

    The capacity of the Left to always anything less than total victory as a defeat is really quite interesting.

    This isn’t unique to the left. It’s specific to a type of partisanship. One need look no further than the right wing media sphere to see the exact same thing occur (both from writers/hosts and commenters/callers). I cannot count the number of times I have heard “our side always caves” days by conservatives about Republicans.

    10
  20. Moosebreath says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    “Also, we have a generation who’ve spent their entire lives online where anything is just a click away, and a three second delay is intolerable.”

    It’s not that new a phenomenon. As Carrie Fisher wrote in the ’80’s, “Instant gratification takes too long.”

    5
  21. Jon says:
  22. Lounsbury says:

    @Matt Bernius: Very valid point – it is indeed generalisable to strong political partisans, although I submit that by general bent the Left activists are rather more prone to this. But you are right it is no way rare nor exclusive.

    @Michael Reynolds: Well I invest in infrastructure (Renewable energy[*] and logistics). One has to be bloody mindedly persistant with payoffs that take 6 plus years… so … hmm maybe it is age but it is I think also a mindset.

    @Joe: I have to say that the idea evoked in some earlier thread of the Biden side (who I must say again I am favourably inclined to) playing judo and full out adopting Brandon grows on me – rather than fighting it. Let’s Go Brandon, Infrastructure Brough Home!

    [*: which makes watching the childish activist antics around COP26 gratingly painful.]


    on the RE infra front although I read the wailing and moaning about your dear West Virginian killing direct action on RE adoption, I think actually it was quite the error to have gone in that direction as really a greater binding constraint for American RE adoption is (a) NIMBY and (b) the piss poor state and balkanised state of your backbone electrical power distribution infrastructure including lack of high efficiency pan continental long-distance distribution. Really I would focus on making an end-run around the hydrocarbon interest by reinforcing and expanding that infra and forcing total interconnect (Texas…). The current market forces on pricing will do the rest of the work as ability to wheel in a cost effective manner energy across full continent will do much to address the time-and-geography intermittance constraint.

    1
  23. Gustopher says:

    Alas, the sticking point had been that progressive Dems refused to vote for a package they very much wanted unless they also got a package that there weren’t enough votes for.

    With all due respect, this is a bullshit argument.

    There’s a lot of stuff in this bill that the progressive caucus is holding their nose on — the large focus on roads and bridges — and not enough on climate and nothing on helping families. They were not very eager for it, they were grudgingly willing to go along with it if they also get the other bits.

    It’s funding the status quo without making enough of the necessary course corrections.

    That’s roughly where I am on it, but I’m willing to take a chainsaw to the reconciliation bill to focus on climate and the child tax credit, and put the rest of it aside for another day.

    And, with the “moderates” not being willing to negotiate in good faith, I am annoyed with Jayapal for pushing her caucus to vote for it.

    Especially after the elections, when there is no real urgency. Does it matter if this passes now, or in December?

    3
  24. Stormy Dragon says:

    My view: the BIF was a bad bill that cost too much, doesn’t actually help infrastructure and mostly just subsidizes corporations buying up previous public property for private enrichment, and continues bad status quo policies.

    It was, on its own, a net negative. It may have made sense as a bribe to get BBB passed, but it didn’t get BBB passed, so passing it on its own was a big failure for the Democrats.

    2
  25. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Lounsbury:
    The young may have great intellect, but intelligence is not experience, still less wisdom. I’ve been tapping my foot impatiently for my entire life, and offering helpful digital suggestions to slow drivers. Back when I was blogging I wrote a side-column called Incoherent Rage. I advanced the theory that rather than ask WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?) a simpler organizing principle would be, AIIMW? (Am I In Michael’s Way?)

    In some ways impatience has been profitable. Normal writers, even in kidlit, spend a year or more writing a book, then a year touring on it. In that same two year span I typically write four to six books. Four to six paydays.

    However, I have mellowed with age as experience combined with intelligence has taught me wisdom, and even a degree of patience. Which when you think about it is paradoxical, given that I have less time left to waste. My eldest is 24 and as explosively impatient and arrogant as I ever was, because the Irony Gods fuck with you like that.

  26. Gustopher says:

    @Matt Bernius:

    I also think we will see the BBB pass in the next week or two. It’s definitely not a done deal, but things are looking positive.

    Then there was no reason the BIF couldn’t have waited too. What’s two weeks?

    If this was two weeks before the election, and was giving a message of “Democrats are getting things done” I could see the potential value — a strong showing might help the “moderate” holdouts get over their fears. I wouldn’t agree, but I could see the argument.

    Now? The progressives get nothing but empty promises.

    1
  27. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Gustopher:

    Forget where I saw it now, but a couple weeks ago, someone commented that the biggest lie in DC is “we’ll do X in the next bill, I promise”.

    3
  28. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Gustopher:
    If climate were our focus we wouldn’t want child tax credits as any child born in the US is a super-consumer of resources. You can grow a whole bunch of, say, Cambodians for the energy cost of one American.

    5
  29. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds: child tax credits are the popular part that takes effect immediately to give Democrats soothing palatable to run on.

    It’s the bits of bacon in the Brussels sprouts.

    Plus, a lot of American families are hurting. Cutting child poverty in half is pretty good. And it is a good step towards the unaffordable child care — no big program, just give people money and assume they will use it.

    You can grow a whole bunch of, say, Cambodians for the energy cost of one American.

    But have you seen the fat marbling on the Americans? And the soft, tender, unused muscles?

    4
  30. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Gustopher:
    Many people make the mistake of imagining that we are Kobe but we’re really just Wagyu.

    1
  31. Lounsbury says:

    @Stormy Dragon: @Gustopher:
    Wonderful to see the focus on delusional impracticality.

    Objecting to blue-collar friendly meat & potatoes, and never going to get past West Virginia Greta climate wankery rather the infrastructure fundamentals and economic efficiency.

  32. Lounsbury says:

    and I remain baffled at the Lefty Left reaction to the win achieved, including the bizarre negativity about basic infrastructure investment that USA has badly neglected for decades.

    As Mr Biden said:

    Biden said the measure included the most significant investment in roads and bridges in 70 years; the most significant investment in passenger rail in 50 years; and the most significant investment in public transit in history. Biden said he and Harris would have a formal signing ceremony for the measure “soon,” citing the desire for those who worked on the legislation to be able to attend.

    I suppose if one in fact is one of those hair-shirt Leftists who really in fact desire a punishing impoverishment (although of course never admitted as such, heatedly denied…)

  33. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Lounsbury:

    Paying hedge funds to buy up our highways and convert them into toll roads is not “blue-collar friendly meat & potatoes”

    Same thing with another round of “giving telecom companies billions to build our universal broadband”.

    What’s going to happen is that pretty much all of the $1.2 trillion is going to end up in investor’s pockets and infrastructure isn’t actually going to improve, but things well get more expensive since we now need to pay rents to the corporations that we paid to buy up everything.

    2
  34. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Lounsbury:

    Biden said the measure included the most significant investment in roads and bridges in 70 years

    The bill explicitly requires the funding favor “private-public partnerships”, “private activity bonds”, and “asset recycling”. That is paying private companies to buy up our public infrastructure.

    the most significant investment in passenger rail in 50 years; and the most significant investment in public transit in history

    In the “world’s largest shetland pony” sense: it keeps in place the 1982 law limiting public transit to 20% of federal transportation funding. The failure to change them demonstrates that the public transit part of the bill is just window dressing.

    1
  35. Lounsbury says:

    @Stormy Dragon: ah yes empty anti market and anti business hard Left knee jerking. Yes you didn’t get Wildonesque nationalisation did you, what a disaster…. actually no.

    1
  36. Lounsbury says:

    @Stormy Dragon: PPP require private capital matching, so unless you all are less competent than your average developing country, which if the hard Left were in charge I might credit, your characterisation is really just ideological cant.

    Of course the Lefts inability typically to celebrate a win is typically amusing, but for the fact you fools will enable the Orange cretin

    2
  37. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Lounsbury:

    PPP require private capital matching

    Which means that Aqua America buys your public sewer system for half of what it’s worth and the taxpayers pay for the other half but get no equity or control (and they didn’t really even pay for their half since it’s all debt financed anyways). Then you enter of cycle of them failing to do proper maintenance, while using the poor state of the system to justify rate hikes that they just give to shareholders instead of actually fixing things, and then when it all becomes too rundown to keep operating, they just abandon the system and the taxpayers are left to clean up the mess.

    5
  38. Lounsbury says:

    @Lounsbury: I shall observe that USA has in it’s agencies, particularly international such as the ex OPIC now US DFC, actual expertise in PPP and one presumes Mr Boutgieg is not so incompetent as to not draw on such for PPP as I understand from press coverage that there are direct Federal paths for large projects built in.

    Mobilisation of private matching capital, typically for the record it’s pension funds and retirement funds as the asset life correspondence with their liabilities is well matched, quite sensibly expands reach and engagement (And having national retirement mobilised here seems good political capital usage). Given heaviest users in terms of wear and tear on bridges and highways are business users (trucking), it’s quite the strange Left knee jerking to be exercised about tolls, but such is the incoherence of the innumerate.

    Jow3ver voila the purity pony reaction is as anticipated, incapable congenitally of not cutting off noses to spite the face for its lack of purity.

    1
  39. Lounsbury says:

    @Stormy Dragon: evidently you don’t understand what matching capital is or means. Else you would not choose the example that is quite simply not matching capital. Well fun to reactions to concept you haven’t a clue about

    1
  40. Lounsbury says:

    And equally noted as per your drooling ignorant comment on debt, you don’t understand equity and debt at all, nor really money…

    1
  41. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Lounsbury:

    Given heaviest users in terms of wear and tear on bridges and highways are business users (trucking), it’s quite the strange Left knee jerking to be exercised about tolls, but such is the incoherence of the innumerate.

    1. Because the tolls rarely reflect the increased wear from the trucks (they pay more toll, but not the hundreds of times more that would be necessary to reflect the wear they cause), so the tolls represent a subsidization of the trucking companies by consumers, which also drives down freight rail utilization.
    2. Again, why are we paying tolls to access a road that was built with taxpayers dollars and then got sold to a for profit company for a fraction of its value?

    3
  42. Lounsbury says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Your incoherent response is so charmingly Lefty innumerate and internally contradictory its quite amusing. Stick to movies.

    But let me give you a small hint – your confusion of asset privatisation with PPP, two different concepts althouh sometimes related in renovation projects for existing assets – hardly helps your confusion.

    1
  43. Gustopher says:

    @Lounsbury:

    Objecting to blue-collar friendly meat & potatoes, and never going to get past West Virginia Greta climate wankery rather the infrastructure fundamentals and economic efficiency.

    If that’s what you read from my post, I recommend taking a class in remedial reading comprehension from your local community college, you dumb git.

  44. Gustopher says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Again, why are we paying tolls to access a road that was built with taxpayers dollars and then got sold to a for profit company for a fraction of its value?

    Also, tolls and other usage fees are a nuisance. Just fucking tax me like a real country, and have public goods that the public can use.

    2
  45. George says:

    @Gustopher:

    There’s a lot of stuff in this bill that the progressive caucus is holding their nose on — the large focus on roads and bridges

    I’m confused by this part. My understanding is that roads and bridges are in bad shape through-out much of America, so isn’t fixing them up something to be encouraged? They’re vital to almost every aspect of civilization, no matter what someone’s politics are. Communists and fascists alike (and everyone in between) puts money into roads and bridges.

    and not enough on climate and nothing on helping families.

    On the other hand I can understand why they would be (and everyone should be) upset that money wasn’t being spent on climate issues and helping families. But I’d have expected that they’d want money spent both on roads/bridges and climate/families, rather than holding their noses about spending money on roads/bridges.

    3
  46. Gustopher says:

    @George: The argument is that we don’t spend enough on public transportation, and that the total infrastructure budget is fixed so it’s a zero sum game. Plus what we invest in changes the choices people make in their daily lives.

    Invest in roads, and you’re not investing in light rail, and then you’re encouraging more people to use cars, and encouraging sprawl, which is a lot worse for the climate than denser cities with more shared transportation resources.

    There’s lots of nuance, and obviously you don’t want bridges to fail, so you can’t go all in on it, but there’s a ratio of roads vs. public transportation that needs to be updated.

    You might also claim that a lot of people don’t want to live in cities, and that’s true, but the counterclaim claim is that investing more in the transportation in the cities will change that. I find all aspects of that argument dubious — rising rents in the cities shows that people do want to live there (or at least more than we have housing for), and we can get our inner suburbs a bit denser and change that equation for a lot of people who don’t want to live in the city proper. But that’s as much a zoning issue as a transportation or infrastructure issue.

    Dense semi-suburban areas have a lot of the lower-impact advantages of a city, at least compared to sprawl. The zoning problem is that people living there now like their craftsman house and big yard and short commute and the high property values created by a scarcity of housing. (And then they complain that their property taxes are too high).

    If this all sounds like social engineering — it is. But so is the status quo. Few people want to force everyone to live in apartments or condos in the city (surely someone somewhere wants to, but no one serious). The costs of sprawl are higher than the costs of urbanization and infill, and it aligns with the climate impact.

    There’s a part of the progressive movement that wants people to pay more of that cost directly, by subsidizing sprawl less, on the belief that people will make different, more climate friendly, choices. I tend to mostly agree with this. It also sounds vaguely libertarian.

    And, if people in a locality want to improve the roads to handle more traffic from the distant suburbs to where the jobs are… they’re welcome to do so, raising taxes and paying for it themselves.

    (Also, I find the spandex crowd complaining about not enough bike lanes as insufferable as everyone else does. I now like to argue with them that they are being ableist…mostly because I find them insufferable and I like to taunt them 🙂 )

    1
  47. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @George:

    But I’d have expected that they’d want money spent both on roads/bridges and climate/families, rather than holding their noses about spending money on roads/bridges.

    You’re not from here, I take it?

    When I moved into the town I lived in, I had a conversation with a long-term resident I worked with. The story goes that the town used to have a thriving main street that fell on hard times when the large shopping mall (which has been abandoned by 3 of the 4 anchor tenants and is now similarly struggling). Given the availability of buildings, I asked my coworker why nearly every store front and larger store (IIRC there was both a Sears and a JC Penney downtown) was vacant. He said that the typical story was that when an offer to rent came, the owner would reply “that guy is a friend of X; I’d rather see my property crumble to dust than have a friend of X’s making money in my property.”

    You might think “they’d want money spent both on roads/bridges and climate/families, rather than holding their noses about spending money on roads/bridges,” but you’d be wrong. They’d rather drive on dirt roads than give money to some [slur, deleted] who keeps popping out babies to stay on the dole.

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  48. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Gustopher: I think the key difference is that, at the moment, we’re doing social engineering best suited to Bizarro World.

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  49. Ken_L says:

    You really have to admire the House Democratic caucus. They have a rare gift for taking bad situations and screwing them up completely.

    There was an argument for passing the Huge Bipartisan Triumph last August, hailing it as proof the new president was the master of reaching across the aisle that he assured us he was in the campaign. Then pass whatever reconciliation bill you can get the votes for later, send it to the Senate so they can hack it around, and resolve the differences in conference.

    There was an argument for passing the BIF a week ago, as a cynical measure to help a flailing McAuliffe.

    There was an argument for calling the bluff of the handful of conservatives, telling them the BIF would be killed and replaced by a single reconciliation bill unless they stopped their pig-headed intransigence.

    There was an argument for simply putting the whole process on ice for a while, until Manchin and Sinema finally announced what they would support, as opposed to what they wouldn’t.

    There was no argument at all for panicking and passing the BIF now, leaving the handful of conservatives with an actual written agreement giving them 20 loopholes to stop the BBB even getting a floor vote. So naturally, that’s what they did.

  50. Lounsbury says:

    @Gustopher: Strange the US Left’s bizarre attitudes…. as if toll roads do not exist in high-tax geographies, as in EU… and yet they do. As in France, a proper taxing country by anyone’s standards…. 70 odd percent of autoroutes. Similar through EU.

    It would appear to me that the arguments here are based on rather deformed and impoverished understandings of how infra assets are developed, funded, maintained in wider world including high-tax – Properly Taxed in hard Left terms I suppose – EU, and a strange ill-informed hostility to approaches that in fact are used and useful in “social democratic” systems. An ideological reaction based on partial and really compeltely misinformed reaction.

    @Ken_L: The argument was simply that achieving a passage and success changes your political dynamic whereas yet more Lefty Left playing Don Quixote would see yet more political capital slowly bleed away.

    Biden is now a winner and with well-sold marketing, managing another win becomes more feasible rather than the slow bleed out of the national as well as Washington narratives. Of course you lot rather prefer to whinge on about MSM not carrying water properly for your preferred PoV…

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  51. Lounsbury says:

    @George: Under approved hard-Left approach now it would appear that roads and all things serviced by road-worthy wheels are Bad Things serving the evil business world, and only investment should be in some form of greenpeacey commune or in rail regardless via an idealised understanding of EU rail abstracted away from actual population distribution and density. the Holy and correct Left writ. If they have not achieved the magical reworking into an idealised understanding of Europe, then clearly it is a total failure and should be rejected…

    Quite the winning formula.

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