Joni Ernst: Biden "infrastructure" plan is wrong turn down dead-end street
By Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA)
When you hear the word infrastructure, what comes to mind? Roads, bridges, locks and dams, and maybe broadband? Well, according to the Biden Administration, infrastructure is just a buzz word for every progressive wish list item under the sun. Sadly, the president’s recent “infrastructure” roadmap takes a very sharp left turn at the expense of American jobs and taxpayers.
Last Congress, Democrats and Republicans on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which I serve on, worked together to unanimously pass out of committee two important infrastructure bills to help fix our roadways and waterways. While the water infrastructure legislation became law late last year, the bipartisan highway bill is a great place to start. But instead, the Biden Administration drafted a mammoth, over two trillion dollar proposal that includes everything from elements of the Green New Deal to stripping away state worker laws in favor of Big Labor. (And get this, the progressive caucus thinks they should go even bigger!)
From what we’ve seen so far, about less than 6% of President Biden’s plan actually goes to support roads and bridges. More taxpayer money would be spent on electric vehicles than on waterways and roads, like fixing those potholes scattered across town after town throughout this country. And mind you, this shift to electric vehicles will have a devastating impact on Iowa’s ethanol and biodiesel industries, which support our state’s local economies.
It’s important to understand how the Biden Administration wants to pay for this ride on the Progressive Policy Train. They want to raise taxes—and not just on American businesses, but on the American people. Recent estimates have concluded that workers could actually bear closer to 50 percent of the burden from this plan’s drastic tax hike. The blunt reality is: higher taxes on American businesses means less jobs and lower wages for American workers. These hikes would also have devastating impacts on the retirement accounts of middle-class families across the country. It’s a mistake to think this would help grow the economy and it’s a stop sign in terms of our economic recovery from COVID-19.
Hailing from a very rural part of Iowa, I am all for looking at ways to invest in broadband expansion, to support our roadways, and to make sure we have the right infrastructure in place to combat issues like the recurring flooding in my home state. Those are true infrastructure needs, and ones that I believe would get strong bipartisan support in a 50-50 Senate. But when you start throwing in progressive policy wish list items and non-infrastructure related provisions into one giant proposal, you’re not going to get strong bipartisan support.
I’m also a huge proponent of expanding access to child care and making sure it’s affordable for our working moms and dads. It is why I have worked across the aisle on bipartisan legislation to support our child care providers and facilities as well as additional relief during the COVID-19 pandemic. But a serious question we will need to wrestle with is how to define infrastructure and what should be included in a true infrastructure bill. That means we will have to work together to build consensus and both sides must be willing to negotiate.
Unfortunately, the Biden “infrastructure” framework is a dead-end street toward helping our communities with their infrastructure needs—all too focused on appeasing the far-Left wing of the Democratic Party rather than serving the American people. The president needs to do a U-turn, because his current plan is going to give taxpayers nothing but higher taxes and road rage.
I stand ready to work with Democrats and Republicans on a targeted and true infrastructure plan—one that is focused and a green light towards solving America’s infrastructure needs.
Joni Ernst represents Iowa in the United States Senate.