Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell has announced that no senators of his party will vote for President Biden’s American Jobs Plan or American Families Plan. He is not waiting for actual legislation to be negotiated or debated. He may be hoping to discourage public debate altogether by not taking the proposals seriously. The plans are not dead, since Democrats can pass them under reconciliation rules if all fifty Democratic senators can agree on them.
McConnell did say that Republicans could still support something like the $568 billion they proposed for a much narrower bill focused on “hard infrastructure,” especially roads and bridges. However, that is only about one-seventh of the $4.1 trillion Biden proposes for his two plans. Much of that smaller sum wouldn’t even be new money, but rather taken from existing allocations, including coronavirus aid to the states that has not yet been spent. That way, Republicans would avoid raising any taxes, but they would also create few additional jobs.
Republicans have made their priorities clear. They place a higher value on preserving the Trump tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy than on addressing broader infrastructure needs such as the transition to new energy sources. Also left out would be the needs of families for more affordable housing, education or child care. Bear in mind that the Biden plans would raise taxes only on incomes over $400,000 a year. To the extent that they make economic arguments at all, Republicans continue to insist, contrary to the economic evidence, that tax cuts for the wealthy create jobs and expand the economy more than increases in government domestic spending. Meanwhile, their primary preoccupation is spreading the lie that Biden won the election only because of fraudulent voting, and working at the state level to suppress the Democratic vote in future elections.
The Biden plans are not perfect, but they deserve honest analysis and fair debate, not rejection out of hand on ideological grounds. Since most people have been dissatisfied with the direction of the country, we would all benefit from such a debate over the future role of government in the economy. Having failed to govern very well while they were in office, Republicans should get over the election and try to restore their tattered reputation as a responsible participant in a two-party democracy.