Editorials, Opinion

GOP song and dance continues

We’re getting tired of this song and dance the GOP keeps doing, where it begrudgingly allows legislation to pass but guts all the funding mechanisms, then wails about the increasing national debt — which it will then gleefully blame on Democrats.

The Republican counteroffer to President Biden’s American Jobs Plan — spearheaded by our own Sen. Shelley Moore Capito — pulls off this routine perfectly.

We’ll give Capito and her colleagues credit for working their way toward meeting Biden in the middle. It’s a nice change of pace after watching congressional Republicans dig in their heels and force the Democrats to do all the compromising.

The GOP senators’ proposal comes with a $928 billion price tag and includes: $506 billion for roads, bridges and “major projects”; $98 billion for public transit systems; $46 billion for passenger and freight rail; $21 billion for “safety”; $22 billion for ports and waterways; $56 billion for airports; $22 billion for water storage out west; $72 billion for water infrastructure; $65 billion for broadband infrastructure; and $20 billion for “infrastructure financing.”

If you’re curious about the categories in quotation marks, it’s because those are pulled directly from the single page PDF/infographic the GOP provided with no additional explanation. The Biden plan may be absurdly long, but at least it contains all the information one would need, so long as one has the patience to read it.

Here’s where the second act of the Republican song and dance opens: There is no funding mechanism for any of this. Capito, as the senators’ appointed spokesperson, has said the GOP plan would be paid for by unspent CARES Act money.

What she and her colleagues fail to realize is just because that money is “unspent” does not mean that money is unclaimed. Business Insider reports “14 state treasurers are urging Congress to refrain from repurposing stimulus money to fund infrastructure, given that the aid is much needed to sustain economic recovery for state and local governments.”

The wheels of bureaucracy turn slowly and it would be reckless to prematurely reallocate the CARES Act funds to infrastructure. State and municipal governments are still calculating COVID’s damage to local economies and what they’ll need to make up lost tax revenues, and small businesses are still waiting on promised grants and loans — the money for which will come from the CARES Act.

So, essentially, the GOP infrastructure counteroffer is unfunded, which will eventually lead to act three of the song and dance: Bemoaning the national debt and blaming it on Democrats. But we could easily head that off.

Biden’s infrastructure plan has a funding mechanism: Raising corporate taxes from 21% to 28%. Mind you, Biden’s proposal still keeps the tax below the pre-Trump rate of 35%.

Senate Republicans have made the tax hike a nonstarter, but the reality is most Americans support the raise. According to an April poll by Morning Consult and Politico, 65% of registered voters support the corporate tax increase to pay for infrastructure:  85% of Democrats, 60% of Independents and 42% of Republicans. Senate Republicans have made the corporate tax a hardline issue, with all 50 swearing not to support it. But if senators actually represented the people who elected them, then 21 GOP senators and 42 Democrats would support the funding mechanism in Biden’s plan for a grand total of 63 votes in favor. Three votes above the threshold set by any potential filibuster.