Guest Opinion

The ‘Infrastructure’ Trojan horse

Jim Hartman

Jim Hartman Courtesy Photo

 

First came President Biden’s $1.9 trillion “American Rescue Plan,” promoted as a COVID-19 stimulus package, notably including the $1,400 individual payments sent to voters in the wake of the pandemic.

That was signed into law after a party-line vote. Republicans estimated only 9 perent of its total spending was directly related to the pandemic.

While making a show of listening to GOP senators, Biden ignored the GOP and rammed his partisan $1.9 trillion plan through the House and Senate.

Last year, in an earlier emergency response to COVID-19, Congress on a bipartisan basis enacted five major bills totaling nearly $3.5 trillion to help manage the pandemic and mitigate the economic burden on families and businesses.

Biden now comes with a $2.3 trillion “American Jobs Plan” for climate and political spending advertised as “infrastructure” investment.

Most Americans think of infrastructure as roads, highways, bridges and other traditional public works. As a result, it polls well with voters, and Presidents of both parties have supported more of it.

Yet, only 7% of the actual bill’s spending is for what Americans think of as infrastructure. This is based on the $2.3 trillion bill containing $115 billion for roads and bridges, $25 billion for airports, and $17 billion for waterways and ports.

The rest of the $621 billion earmarked for “transportation” are subsidies for green energy and payouts to unions for the jobs his climate regulation will kill. It’s really a plan to build government back much bigger than ever.

Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell castigates the bill as a “Trojan horse” for a wish list of left-wing agenda items unrelated to infrastructure.

“Inside the Trojan horse is going to be more borrowed money and massive tax increases,” McConnell charges.

Biden concedes that traditional infrastructure is only part of the plan. The magnitude of spending is staggering.

There’s $85 billion for mass transit plus $80 billion for Amtrak, which is on top of the $70 billion that Congress appropriated for mass transit in three COVID spending bills.

Then there’s $174 billion for electric vehicles, including money to build 500,000 charging stations and for consumer “incentives” on top of the current $7,500 federal tax credit to buy an EV.

Biden redefines infrastructure as social-justice policy. He promises to target 40% of “climate and clean” investments “to disadvantaged communities” — defined in part by race.

His plan also includes $400 billion for increasing home-health care, $300 billion for manufacturing, $213 billion for affordable housing, $100 billion for retrofitting public schools, $100 billion for broadband access, and $25 billion for childcare facilities.

Biden wants to spend several hundred billion dollars on green energy through a pipeline of taxpayer-funded grants, loans, tax credits and loan guarantees. The plan is reminiscent of the giant taxpayer-funded boondoggles of the Obama administration’s green energy enthusiasm – most famously Solyndra.

Biden touted Solyndra’s solar-panel factory groundbreaking in 2009. Two years later the company declared bankruptcy, despite $535 million in federal loan guarantees. The Energy Department’s inspector general concluded Obama’s green technology program was infused with politics at every level.

Another green boondoggle from the Obama era was the Crescent Dunes solar plant near Tonopah, Nevada. In 2011, the $1 billion Crescent Dunes project was to be the biggest molten salt technology solar plant, receiving $737 million in government loan guarantees.

When it opened in 2015, the increased efficiency of cheap solar panels had surpassed Crescent Dunes’ technology — it was already obsolete. A Crescent Dunes bankruptcy followed in December 2020, costing taxpayers $510 million.

Meanwhile greens oppose the $1 billion 7,100-acre Gemini Solar project southeast of Las Vegas, the country’s largest solar farm. They argue the project will disturb Mojave Desert species— the desert tortoise, kit fox and the Threecorner milkvetch, a rare plant. They complain solar projects in California’s desert have caused thousands of bird deaths.

Renewable energy has more cost and complication than most now imagine.


Jim Hartman is an attorney residing in Genoa. Email lawdocman1@aol.com.

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