Las Vegas Sun

June 24, 2021

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Whatever Biden’s infrastructure upgrades are called, they’re needed


Evan Vucci / AP

In this March 31, 2021, file photo President Joe Biden delivers a speech on infrastructure spending at Carpenters Pittsburgh Training Center in Pittsburgh.

Republican leaders have complained that President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan is misnamed because it includes funding for needs other than roads, bridges and such.

But until they come up with their own plans to fix crumbling schools, improve child care and senior care facilities, create more affordable housing and address other needs covered by Biden’s proposed legislation, their criticism is meaningless. Parsing the definition of infrastructure isn’t going to solve problems and improve the lives of Americans, which Biden’s $2.3 trillion plan will do.

To its discredit, the GOP is only interested in rebuilding America’s infrastructure in the most limited sense, with a $568 billion counterproposal mostly covering roads and bridges, public transit systems, railroads and ports. There’s some funding for broadband and drinking water as well, but the package doesn’t go beyond that.

Biden’s plan, on the other hand, covers all of those bases while also investing in development of renewable energy, modernization of schools, construction of child care facilities, upgrades of veterans’ hospitals and federal buildings, construction of housing for low- and middle-income families, and more.

Where’s the GOP plan to address those needs? Don’t look for Republicans to offer one. Disgracefully, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is signaling that the GOP won’t budge from its counterproposal, which, in his words, “deals with what all of us agree is infrastructure.”

Wrong, Senator. Americans certainly don’t have a problem with Biden’s idea of infrastructure, as poll after poll shows support for it.

Don’t look for McConnell and other obstructionist congressional Republicans to offer any meaningful ideas for addressing the other needs covered by Biden’s plan, though. This is a party that sailed right past its chance to address infrastructure when it held majorities during the Trump administration, then didn’t even bother to craft a platform during its last convention. That speaks volumes about how little the GOP leadership cares about the business of governance and the need for meaningful policies on issues that directly affect Americans’ lives — sagging infrastructure, holes in the social safety net, the existential threat of global warming, etc.

There should be nothing partisan about taking on these challenges. We’ll note that three years ago, the Sun sounded an alarm that Democrats who were vying in the 2018 midterms were running almost exclusively on an anti-Donald Trump message instead of offering concrete solutions to the problems that American families were discussing at their kitchen tables.

“The bottom line is that Democrats need to offer solutions, not just bash Trump,” we said at the time. “They need to show voters what they’re for, not just what they’re against. And they need to get people excited about their mission, not just rail against the president.”

Biden understood this idea. He set himself apart in the Democratic primary and won the general election with the most votes in history based largely on a policy package that was the most comprehensive, pragmatic and innovative of any candidate in the field.

Today, Republicans would be smart to follow suit, as opposed to sniffing about the definition of infrastructure. If they don’t like Biden’s approach, they should bring forward their set of solutions. Otherwise, they should break ranks from McConnell and the extremist leadership, and get on board with a plan that Americans overwhelmingly support.