Representative Mike Gallagher (R., Wis.) put out a series of videos on Twitter this morning explaining why he is fed up with the infrastructure process in Congress.
First: the price tag. The bipartisan deal would add $600 billion in new federal spending. “600 billion seems like a drop in the bucket compared to multiple multi-trillion-dollar COVID packages Congress has already passed in the last 18 months, but it is a huge sum of money, particularly considering that bipartisan negotiations during the Trump administration hovered around 250 billion in new spending,” Gallagher said.
Second: the nature of the problem. Gallagher said that Republicans and Democrats agree that American infrastructure could use modernization. “But the problem that I see isn’t that we haven’t spent enough money on infrastructure,” he said. “It’s that we created a broken system that throws good money after bad, and as a result we have the highest-priced infrastructure in the developed world.”
“So if you put aside the price tag, the actual concern should be that there’s no indication from this bipartisan group in the Senate that they’re actually going to address the many underlying problems in infrastructure financing,” Gallagher said. “In the absence of real reform, we’re again going to be faced with calls to update our allegedly decaying infrastructure in a short period of time.”
Third: the politics. “Usually, when you’re in the minority party, you negotiate with the majority on a bipartisan package because your goal is to move policy in a better direction, in this case to the right, of where you would be if the other party dictated policy on its own,” Gallagher said. “You might not get everything you want, but at least you prevented the worst case scenario. You got buy-in from both parties that would stand the test of time . . . but that’s not what’s going on here.”
If the bipartisan deal falls apart, Democrats can just take the $600 billion in new spending from that package and roll it into their $3.5 trillion partisan package they plan to pass through budget reconciliation, meaning it would only need 50 votes, i.e. no Republican votes.
“This is a heads I win, tails you lose negotiating strategy from the Democrats,” Gallagher said. “They either get to claim bipartisanship on an infrastructure deal, or if Republicans walk away from the table, they’ll just fold that plan into the gigantic bill they were planning on doing anyways.”
Fourth: the country’s long-term fiscal health. Gallagher sums up the previous COVID packages which already passed ($6 trillion), the new spending in the bipartisan deal ($600 billion), and the Democrats’ reconciliation bill ($3.5 trillion), and says that if Democrats get their way, it will be $10 trillion in new federal spending over just the past two calendar years. “Even adjusted for inflation, it’s more than we spent on World War II, the New Deal, the Marshall Plan, the space race, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan combined,” Gallagher said.
Fifth: national security. Gallagher pointed out that despite all this spending, the U.S. is poorly prepared for potential conflicts with China. “Admiral Phil Davidson, who until very recently was our top military officer in the Indo-Pacific, warned earlier this year that the Chinese Communist Party could try to invade Taiwan in the next six years,” Gallagher said.
“But instead of listening to Admiral Davidson’s urgent warning, the Biden administration is proposing an inflation-adjusted cut to the defense budget at the same time that domestic spending is growing by 16 percent. So federal spending is the highest as a share of GDP that it’s been since World War II, yet we are failing to make the investments needed to deter or if necessary win World War III,” Gallagher said.
Gallagher has made a strong, well-reasoned, conservative case against the infrastructure deal. Republicans in the Senate would do well to consider it.