Guest Editorials, Opinion

Infrastructure bill: Failure to launch

With a new year comes hope in the White House that Americans will eventually buy into “Bidenomics.” For instance, President Joe Biden would no doubt love to pose for pictures in front of some of the new projects funded by his $1.2 trillion infrastructure package.

Unfortunately, the administration’s own policies have hampered his opportunities.

CNN reported last month that Biden has privately expressed immense frustration that it could be years before he can show off any of the wonders built thanks to the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which he signed into law in November 2021.

But many remain years off — if they ever get built at all.

Some of the delays are beyond a president’s control. “The government is simply not very efficient at doing much of anything,” Reason magazine’s Eric Boehm points out, “and major infrastructure projects take time to plan, organize and execute.”

Yet many of the slowdowns and red tape are self-inflicted. Republicans have long advocated for removing hurdles to large federal projects. Typically such efforts are resisted by Biden’s party. It also doesn’t help that the infrastructure bill was filled with pork for green and union interests.

When Biden signed the measure into law, he not only renewed requirements that federally funded infrastructure projects use American-made iron and steel, but he also expanded these “Buy American” requirements to other construction materials such as lumber, drywall, copper wire and fiber optic cables. The law also included a provision limiting the ability of nonunion construction shops to bid on infrastructure jobs and “created delays by adding more paperwork and a confusing patchwork of new federal oversight for projects that sought funding,” Boehm reports.

Biden’s “Buy American” agenda may be popular with the public, but it’s also at odds with his effort to quickly and efficiently complete infrastructure projects.

Boehm correctly notes that, instead of pandering to labor unions and political allies, the president could have pushed for an infrastructure bill that focused on actually building something in a speedy, cost-effective way, by providing a path to easing red tape. Instead he did the opposite.

Maybe voters are simply smarter than the White House realizes. Maybe they have picked up on the fact that “Bidenomics” and the infrastructure bill are a mishmash of inconsistencies masquerading as coherent economic policy.

This editorial first appeared in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, This commentary should be considered another point of view and not necessarily the opinion or editorial policy of The Dominion Post.