Biden's Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill is a Stealth Victory

Progressive critics should check their math

Left-wing critics have panned Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, claiming that he caved too quickly to GOP and Moderate Democrat demands to whittle down his American Jobs Plan from $2.3 Trillion to just $550 Billion. But when you crunch the numbers and look at the big picture, the Biden administration actually pulled off a massive political win.

Biden initially proposed a bill called the American Jobs Plan, sometimes referred to as the “infrastructure bill.” But this bill didn’t just invest in infrastructure like roads, broadband, and bridges. It invested in, some might say, unrelated areas, like veterans, education, climate, and home healthcare. In fact, the plan contained just ~$725 Billion of what most people would consider to be “infrastructure.

In order to pass in Congress, the bill would need the support of at least 10 GOP Senators to break the filibuster. But for many in the GOP, anything unrelated to “infrastructure” was a non-starter.

Instead, the GOP proposed an infrastructure-only bill with just $250 Billion of new investments. Through negotiation, Biden was able to work the GOP up to $330 Billion, then to $380 Billion, and ultimately struck a deal with the help of moderate Democrats for some ~$550 Billion in infrastructure investments.

Now, at 550, Biden gets about 70% of the infrastructure dollars he wanted. But this $550 Billion number is a bit misleading too. It does not include so-called “baseline” spending, which is spending that was previously allocated by Congress, if not yet passed. This is partially a mistake, as it obscures the true increase in infrastructure funding.

Congress was already looking to pass surface transportation funding, as it does every five years. Critics might not want to include this as “new” spending. But here’s the rub, this Congress, under Biden, had raised surface spending allocations by a third. That is, funding rose from a total of $275 Billion in the last bill to about $400 Billion in this bill.

It makes sense to consider the additional $125 Billion as “new investments.” That pushes Biden’s infrastructure funding to some ~$657 Billion, or about 90% of hard infrastructure spending initially proposed.

Further, consider that the American Jobs Plan called for that funding over eight years, while the Bipartisan Bill funds them over just five years. Far from caving to the GOP, Biden actually obtained over 100% of the infrastructure funding he sought.

Meanwhile, items of the Biden agenda that couldn’t get any bipartisan support were shifted to a Democrats-only reconciliation bill that, in some form or another, will likely pass.

In total, Federal infrastructure investments will more than triple in the next five years, and although the funding mechanism isn’t ideal, it marks a significant win for Biden and America. This win is even more extraordinary considering that President Trump was unable to get his own infrastructure bill passed, a campaign promise, even as his party had control of all branches of Congress.

Progressives who believe that Biden caved to establishment interests ought to check their math.

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