On a new Infrastructure Bill

The Democrats under Chuck Schumer are proposing a big federal infrastructure bill. The Pretender in Chief is also proposing a big infrastructure program funded by tax credits. Both are quite different, aside from the word “infrastructure”, but they are similar in that they are both big programs and both bad policy and both will raise the national debt.

  1. Democrats are making a strategic error in trying to work with the administration. As the Republicans showed in the previous administration, the path to victory in divided America is through resistance to the administration, not cooperation. It is becoming more Parliamentary in that respect.
  2. If a Bill is somehow made law, and it is popular, the Pretender in Chief will get all the credit. Sure Schumer will get to attend the signing ceremony, and have one more photo with him and the least liked politician in America, but aside from his constituents, everyone else will say who is that old white man in the background. They will get no credit from the public.
  3. Massive investment in Infrastructure at this point in history is not only bad politics for the Democrats as a whole, it is bad policy.
    1. We are moving to an era where maintenance outweighs new construction, politicians are all about new builds, not maintenance. Politically driven construction lists will not be those projects with the highest benefit/cost ratios, but simply new projects that grab ribbon-cutting headlines while old infrastructure continues it’s long path of deterioration.
    2. We are moving to an era where we can use infrastructure more efficiently with autonomous vehicles.
    3. The benefits are all local, the funding should be local as well to align interests.
    4. It provides the federal government one more lever to use against New York if it doesn’t like some local policy (Sanctuary Cities anyone?). New York City should understand why it wants as much financial and political autonomy as it can get.
    5. Infrastructure costs will only rise going forward with so much concrete going into the Mexican Wall.
    6. The economy is near full employment in the construction sector. This will drive up wages but not output as labor is the scarce commodity. Bring this back maybe when there is significant unemployment.
  4. New York will get an outsized share of federal dollars from any bill, and New York needs new infrastructure more than anywhere else in the US, but New York has shown an inability to manage its own money and infrastructure properly, and until it can deliver infrastructure at a reasonable cost, there is no reason for the rest of the US to subsidize it. Notably both Schumer and Trump are from New York and probably don’t care that other people are paying for New York’s managerial ineptitude. New York will vote Democrat in any case, so this doesn’t help the party elsewhere in the country.

I am optimistic no such bill will actually pass. Schumer may be leader of the Opposition, but he is no friend of the Resistance.