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Sprinkles from the Left

An overwhelming majority of Democrats are in support of Biden’s infrastructure proposal (87%; NBC News Poll). There is no polling data for the GOP’s counterproposal.

“One could reasonably argue there’s an infrastructure of home- or community-based elder care that experts say is terribly stressed and unprepared for the aging baby boomer population, which will nearly triple the number of Americans older than 85 in the decades to come. [Biden’s] plan takes that on.

And there’s certainly the infrastructure of energy production and transportation, two major contributors to skies polluted with heat-trapping greenhouse gases from the burning of fossil fuels. As one of the world’s leading carbon polluters, the United States must cut emissions by half this decade to have a shot, with the rest of world, of preventing the most catastrophic climate changes.

Biden’s ‘transformational’ response is to begin weaning transportation and energy production off fossil fuels by, among other things, advancing the transition to electric vehicles and sponsoring research into emissions-reducing and climate resilience technologies.

The president is offering what he touts as bold and sensible infrastructure improvements that so far appear to resonate with Americans, much as did Biden’s $1.9 billion COVID-19 relief package despite lockstep Republican opposition. Moody’s Analytics estimates that, along with the relief plan, Biden’s infrastructure proposal will create 3.3 million jobs over the next 10 years. The nonpartisan Center on Education and the Workforce says the plan could save or create 15 million jobs.

Editorial Board, USA Today

“A recent Morning Consult-Politico poll found that while 60 percent of voters favor the plan, support for individual items is even higher, such as for refurbishing Veterans Affairs hospitals (80 percent), modernizing highways and roads (77 percent) and improving caregiving (76 percent). Items that Republicans insist are not infrastructure turn out to be quite popular as well, with 65 percent of respondents favoring investment in medical manufacturing and 62 percent favoring extended broadband Internet. In addition, “sixty-five percent of registered voters said they strongly or somewhat support funding Biden’s infrastructure plan through 15 years of higher taxes on corporations, while 21 percent somewhat or strongly oppose it.”

Likewise, a recent Reuters-Ipsos poll shows “71% supported a plan to extend high-speed internet to all Americans [and] 68% supported an initiative to replace every lead pipe in the country.” Large majorities favor tax credits for renewable energy (66 percent), and Reuters also reports that “64% of [U.S.] adults supported a tax hike on corporations and large businesses, and 56% supported ending tax breaks for the fossil fuel industry.’”

Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post ($ or try incognito)

“Not nearly enough has been spent to maintain, improve or expand the nation’s physical infrastructure. The American Society of Civil Engineers’ ‘2021 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure’ estimated that there is a shortfall of about $2.6 trillion in funding for needed projects through 2029. And that doesn’t include a lot of nontraditional infrastructure spending.

…Which brings us to what we mean by ‘infrastructure.’ Most people think of it as the nation’s physical fabric: the transportation network, water and sewer facilities, the communications network, and the power grid. But we can no longer exclude those aspects of the modern economy that affect human capital, such as the health and education systems, the mechanisms of government, the social network, and even the financial system.

The fraying of any of those elements leads to lower productivity and growth and a reduced standard of living. And all of those components have been allowed to deteriorate….

… As for the scale of the infrastructure measure, we are inclined to side with President Biden that going big makes the most sense. Keep in mind this isn’t about increasing the size of government or hiring more bureaucrats, it’s about turning around and pouring money into the private sector to build those roads, install those electric vehicle charging stations, replace failing sewer lines and, yes, make sure seniors and people with disabilities have access to home care.

… Regarding the appropriate corporate tax rate, we would grant the administration its wiggle room. We have witnessed no great successes from President Donald Trump’s choice to lower the rate from 35% to 21% in 2017. Raising it back to 28%, as Mr. Biden has proposed, would likely have little impact on job creation (although it might mean less corporate stock buybacks). But then we won’t get tearful if it lands closer to 25%, as Senator Manchin prefers, particularly if user fees like a gas tax increase are part of the final product, too. A longtime legislator like Mr. Biden knows how to cut a deal over spending that’s as broadly popular with Americans as this measure proposes. Now, it’s just up to members of Congress to get it done.”

Editorial Board, Baltimore Sun

Sprinkles from the Right

Roughly one-fifth of Republicans think Biden’s infrastructure proposal is a good idea (21%; NBC News Poll). There is no polling data for the GOP’s counterproposal.

“In their $2.5 trillion infrastructure bill, only $115 billion or less than 5% of the total is spent to ‘modernize the bridges, highways, roads, and main streets. $25 billion on airports, and $17 billion on inland waterways, coastal ports, land ports of entry, and ferries.’

The rest is a combination of the Green New Deal and a host of new big government federal social programs that have nothing to do with infrastructure. These programs include $300 billion for housing, $400 billion for elderly and disabled care. Additional spending also includes $400 billion for ‘clean energy credits’ to promote wind and solar. All of these programs individually are receiving much more than roads and bridges.”

Perry Hooper Jr., Montgomery Adviser

“The Biden plan broadens the definition of infrastructure to include more than $2 trillion in funding for things like the National Science Foundation, long-term care, corporate child care, and electric-car companies. Some are worthy causes, but they don’t belong in an infrastructure bill.

About $600 billion of the plan isn’t paid for and will take the nation further into debt. Democrats will pay for the rest of the plan with an enormous tax increase, the burden of which would ultimately be borne by American workers and consumers. It would make the U.S. less competitive in the global economy, reversing progress made in the past few years. The 2017 tax reforms—which the Biden proposal would largely dismantle—unleashed record growth in jobs and wages and produced the lowest poverty rate since the government started tracking it 60 years ago.

… The 2017 reforms also reversed the “lockout” effect that kept foreign profits of U.S. companies overseas. Instead, $1.6 trillion in overseas earnings came back to the U.S. Most important for working families, 70% of the savings from the corporate tax cuts flowed directly into higher wages for workers, contributing to the 19 straight months of wage growth before the pandemic. Thanks to the 2017 reforms, the largest U.S. companies increased their domestic research-and-development expenditures by 25%, amounting to $707 billion, and increased capital expenditures by 20%, aided by this return of foreign profits.

Mr. Biden’s proposed tax hikes would put all this U.S. investment, job creation and research at risk. Under the Biden plan, the combined federal and state corporate tax rate would go from 25.8%—already above the average rate of 23.4% for other developed countries—to 32.8%, the highest rate in the developed world. The U.S. tax rate would again be higher than China’s…

… Multiple studies, including from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, show that workers will bear most of the burden of higher rates in the form of lower wages and lost jobs. Instead of a $2.7 trillion plan that goes way beyond any definition of infrastructure and is paid for with tax hikes on workers and the economy, let’s go back to the proven model: a bipartisan bill focused on real infrastructure with sensible funding mechanisms. Partisan tax hikes will only make America uncompetitive again, hurting American workers and their families.”

Rob Portman, Wall Street Journal

“To pay for its initial $2 trillion in spending, the White House’s plan raises the federal corporate tax rate to 28 percent from the previous 21 percent. This change puts us above even notoriously entrepreneurship unfriendly countries like England (at 19 percent) and nations fallaciously hailed by the left as positive examples of socialist tendencies, including Finland (20 percent), Sweden (21.4 percent), Norway (22 percent), and Denmark (22 percent). China is below the proposed rate with 25 percent.

In fact, the U.S. corporate tax rate will be the highest of the 37 countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) once France implements their reduction to 25.83 percent over the next year. Sweden and the Netherlands are likewise reducing their tax rates on businesses….

… Along with incentivizing entrepreneurship and investment to avoid the United States, this tax hike is likely to contribute to slowed wage growth and lost jobs. Along with typical slowed growth associated with less money remaining with the company, the comparatively high taxes would harm U.S. companies’ ability to financially compete with those that are foreign-based due to tax discrepancies.

Although intended to pay for infrastructure, the Biden administration’s tax hikes would severely harm the U.S. economy and weaken us relative to other countries.”

Paulina Enck, The Federalist