Meanwhile, Biden Jobs/Climate Plan Inching Forward, and Wildly Popular

May 28, 2021

Jennifer Rubin in The Washington Post:

No one should be confused as to the inadequacy of the Republicans’ latest counteroffer on the American Jobs Plan. Sure, it had a top-line number of $928 billion. But as the New York Times explains: “Senate Republicans on Thursday proposed spending less that one seventh of what President Biden has requested in his expansive $1.7 trillion infrastructure initiative, countering with $257 billion in new funding for roads, bridges and other public works.”

President Biden was nevertheless respectful toward Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.), the lead Republican negotiator on the infrastructure bill. White House press secretary Jen Psaki in a written statement used the most mild language imaginable in response. After praising Capito’s work, Psaki explained in a written statement:[W]e remain concerned that their plan still provides no substantial new funds for critical job-creating needs, such as fixing our veterans’ hospitals, building modern rail systems, repairing our transit systems, removing dangerous lead pipes, and powering America’s leadership in a job-creating clean energy economy, among other things. Lastly, we are concerned that the proposal on how to pay for the plan remains unclear: we are worried that major cuts in COVID relief funds could imperil pending aid to small businesses, restaurants and rural hospitals using this money to get back on their feet after the crush of the pandemic.

Why so gentle when Republicans have done so little? There are a few reasons.

First, Biden and his team truly believe that the process is the point. Cordial dealings — even if unsuccessful — improve his ability to make gains, albeit down the road. Even if the negotiations fail, Capito will be a critical player on jobs, climate change, infrastructure, housing and more.

Second, on the same day that Capito issued the counteroffer, the Senate reached cloture on the Endless Frontier Act, a significant piece of legislation aimed at U.S. competitiveness. White House aides say this bill contains R&D investments for both the National Science Foundation and Energy Department totaling almost $100 billion. (Less than the $180 billion included in the American Jobs Plan, but still significant.)

The Endless Frontier Act also has new investments in manufacturing capacity, including support for regional technology hubs, Manufacturing USA and the Manufacturing Extension Partnership. These total about $14 billion, which is roughly equivalent to what Biden had in the American Jobs Plan for these items.

There is another $52 billion for supply chains, including for semiconductors. Again, this was in Biden’s jobs plan, albeit at a higher amount. In short, Biden does not care where he achieves his goals. It’s all “Build Back Better” to him.

Third, while Republicans object to any tax increase for the rich and corporations, Biden is out selling a populist economic message. “I believe this is our moment to rebuild an economy from the bottom up and the middle out,” he said on Thursday in Cleveland. “Not a trickle-down economy from the very wealthy. That has never benefited people who are at this college or any other place where they’re trying to make a living.” He argued his plans are already working, lifting growth projections and getting people back to work. He even pulled out a list of Republicans who voted against the rescue plan but have been touting its results.

If negotiations on the jobs plan break down because Republicans won’t ask corporations to pay a little more, Biden will certainly be happy to remind voters he got the child tax credit through in the American Rescue Plan, as well as the $1,400 checks to jump-start the economy. He can remind them that he wants items aimed strictly at working- and middle-class Americans — including rural voters — such as free community college and expanded broadband. Even if he “fails” in talks with Republicans (the same people who won’t even authorize a commission to look at Jan. 6), he still wins the political argument.

One Response to “Meanwhile, Biden Jobs/Climate Plan Inching Forward, and Wildly Popular”

  1. rhymeswithgoalie Says:

    He even pulled out a list of Republicans who voted against the rescue plan but have been touting its results.

    Somebody out there (not as politic as Biden) will surely create a video mashup of all the Republican pols touting the candy—Biden’s candy—that the infrastructure bill will bring to their constituents.

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