Presidents, governors and mayors in this and the last century love to talk about building or rebuilding our infrastructure.
Mayors and governors, in particular, love ribbon-cutting ceremonies. President Biden is no different.
Mr. Biden calls his infrastructure plan the “Build Back Better Plan.” But it’s really not a plan. It’s a vision. Mr. Biden’s vision to live “greener.”
Sure, he wants a more modern infrastructure and for America’s auto industry to be more technological inventive — although the latter might merely mean being able to reserve a spot for your electric vehicle from its dashboard.
He and other advocates haven’t thought things through. Even the price tag for Mr. Biden’s “Build Back Better Plan” reeks of unsustainable dollars and sense, reckoning a cost of $4 trillion over 10 years. How does he reckon when the Democrat-led House and Senate are still doling out trillions and trillions dollars in the fight against the pandemic?
Look, infrastructure is beloved public works projects.
Teddy Roosevelt was a parks and rec guy. Following the stock market crash of 1929 and during World War II, his cousin, Franklin, took on public works projects, putting Americans and immigrants to work. Then Dwight Eisenhower zoomed in on our roads, bridges and tunnels, making commutes to farms easier and traveling to and from grandma’s house breezier.
You next can consider the three decades as racial/socio-economic interruptus, when school busing, college desegregation and flight to the suburbs led city and state officials employing ways to build housing in the suburbs. Many of those city folk never returned.
Today, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and other economic and political factors, young adults and millenials reared in the ’burbs are struggling to stay afloat. But they can’t keep up like earlier generations.
Their parents and grandparents tried to spend within their means, buying or renting a home they could afford and paying their bills because they accepted their personal responsibilities.
Then the federal government overburdened them with high taxes and fees, and now they live in their parents’ basements because 1) they lost their jobs due to COVID-19 and 2) they bought high-priced houses and condos and those homes went under water during the Obama administration.
Indulging in open-concept living areas, huge kitchens where no one cooks and grand bedroom suites for kids meant that tuition bills were ignored.
Now they want other taxpayers to pay their bills.
Such strategic industries as roads, highways and tunnels get jerked around, as do schools and hospitals. Didn’t used to be that way.
Again, presidents, governors and mayors love infrastructure projects. Ask Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who is tasked by the Biden administration with politically auctioning off the “Build Back Better Plan.”
D.C., Maryland and Virginia are going to be among the first in line to get your dollars. Metro is in the red and desperate for federal bailouts.
The push for federal infrastructure planning and spending is not new. Recall that Donald Trump spoke on it in his victory speech on Election Night: “We are going to fix our inner cities and rebuild our highways, bridges, tunnels, airports, schools, hospitals. We’re going to rebuild our infrastructure, which will become, by the way, second to none. And we will put millions of our people to work as we rebuild it.”
And therein lies a major rub. Mr. Biden hasn’t detailed where the jobs will be and who’s going to get them.
Guess his vision can’t go the distance.
χ Deborah Simmons can be contacted at email@example.com.
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