The Democratic Party’s jobs agenda is proceeding, without much regard for its chances of overcoming Republican obstructionism. Step one was a vote on the entirety of the American Jobs Act (which the GOP killed); step two was a component of the larger bill, intended to save/create hundreds of thousands of jobs for teachers and first responders (which the GOP also killed).
The third step will come this week with a vote on an infrastructure-investment bill. The Dems’ plan is to invest $60 billion — $50 billion for direct spending on transportation projects, $10 billion to get the National Infrastructure Bank up and running — which would in turn, according to U.S. Department of Transportation, create roughly 800,000 jobs. It would be fully paid for — not a penny would be added to the deficit — with a 0.7% surtax on millionaires and billionaires.
Except, there’s no chance of this actually happening, since Senate Republicans won’t even allow members to vote on the legislation.
Let’s not forget, however, that public investment in infrastructure didn’t use to be a partisan issue. Greg Sargent reports today on several Republican senators who, in the not-too-distant past, “explicitly endorsed infrastructure spending … as a good way to spur economic growth or maintain economic competitiveness.”
* Senator Susan Collins has claimed that reparing the nation’s transportation infrastructure is “essential to economic recovery and cannot be left solely to state governments.”
* Senator Lindsey Graham has claimed that “if you’re a Republican and you want to create jobs, then you need to invest in infrastructure that will allow us to create jobs.”
* Senator Richard Shelby has said: “Infrastructure spending is essential to our long term economic stability and growth.”
* Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison has claimed that an infrastructure bank is a “creative” way to spur “economic development and job growth.”
* Senator Richard Lugar has asserted that “addressing the aging infrastructure of our roads, bridges and railways is critical to our nation’s economic viability.”
All of these GOP senators appear likely to object so strongly to the popular infrastructure bill, they’re prepared to filibuster the legislation and filibuster the motion to even debate the bill in the first place.
Greg’s focus was obviously on the Senate, but I’d just add that House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) also said, just six weeks ago, “[O]bviously infrastructure does create jobs. I don’t think you can really deny that.”
The question then becomes whether Republican policymakers actually want to create jobs or not.
Infrastructure investments and the notion that spending like this can create jobs used to be bipartisan. Indeed, lawmakers used to desperately seek out projects like these as a way of demonstrating to their constituents that they’re making a difference in Washington.
But that was before shielding millionaires from tiny tax increases became the top GOP priority.
There’s really no excuse for this, and if Americans paid closer attention to current events, it’d be considered scandalous. We have unemployed workers eager to help rebuild American infrastructure; we have a massive number of projects (roads, bridges, ports, runways, rail) that need repair; we have public demand for both jobs and improved infrastructure; we have low interest rates that make now the ideal time to act; and we have a bill that’s fully paid for through a popular financing plan.
And yet, the entirety of the Republican caucuses in the House and Senate just don’t care.