Opinion | White House

Enhanced infrastructure plan is the best way to go

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the view of The Hill

Joe Biden's economic efforts are paying off big time and he deserves credit for resuscitating the failed Trump economy.

Through August, the new administration has created about 4 million new jobs after millions of them were lost under his predecessor. Cash-strapped working families needed a big boost, and the Child Tax Credit in the American Rescue Plan pumped much-needed financial aid to hard-working families with vulnerable children.

But so much more needs to be done. Passage of the big and bold Build Back Better bill would continue and even extend the recovery that's already started.

There are two proposals before Congress. The basic package is the unimaginative choice. It contains money for transportation and electronic infrastructure. This proposal is good but not good enough to fundamentally reform and revitalize the economy. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act costs $1.2 trillion spread over 10 years. But only half of that amount is new spending, which is hardly enough to tackle the massive problems facing the economy. The bold Build Back Better plan would cost $3.5 trillion over the same time frame.

The basic proposal is good but, as I mentioned, it's not good enough to fundamentally reform and revitalize the economy. It is supported by Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and some Republicans. The larger proposal is championed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) and House progressives like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). This reconciliation bill has no GOP backers and would require the support of just about every House Democrat and all 50 Democrats in the Senate.

The visionary premium proposal has money to fund improvements to the economy with infrastructure along with funding for universal preschool education, free community college tuition and child care. These programs are as vital to the economic health and wellbeing of our great nation as basic brick and building projects. 

A national poll conducted last month for USA Today indicated that most Americans support both packages. Since there's public support, why not go for the gold instead of settling for the bronze medal. The premium package has the potential to have the most profound positive potential. 

The lion's share of the funding for the larger program would come out of the pockets of the millionaires and billionaires who reaped the ripe harvest of the insidious tax cuts under Donald Trump. The Trump tax law exacerbated income inequality and increased the federal budget deficit. Three-fifths of the benefits from the Trump tax cuts went to people in the top fifth of the income scale. In the first two years after the new tax law, federal tax revenues declined by a third. The premium package would right a wrong by benefitting middle-class families.

The big package is also an aggressive progressive approach to fighting the problem of climate change. The Build Back Better plan would be a significant step forward to ward off the ravages of an increasingly dangerous environment that have already caused disasters from forest fires to fierce flooding.

We are all familiar with the political palette. Democrats are the blue team while the GOP wears red uniforms. The two infrastructure proposals also come with color codes. The background for the small package is a dull battleship grey while the color scheme for the big package is vibrant emerald green. Green symbolizes the color of the money from big corporations and wealthy Americans that would fund the ambitious program. It also represents the urgent need to reboot our economy into a big clean energy machine.

The low-cost option is sturdy and dependable while the pricier proposal is visionary and dynamic. The basic infrastructure funding proposal is necessary but not a sufficient step to meet the challenges that we face in the future. While threats to the U.S. multiplied and mutated, America slept. This enhanced proposal ends the whistling past the graveyard mentality that has frozen American politics in place for decades while climate change and income inequality became major threats to our survival

The smaller package is too skimpy to meet the obstacles that the U.S. States faces through the 21st century. The enhanced package confronts the dangers that ominously lurk down that line. We live in troubled times, and America has been slow to react to the existential challenges it faces this century including climate change and income inequality. The times require bold action to catch up. America has not moved on with the times and it's time to be bold instead of cautious.

Brad Bannon is a Democratic pollster and CEO of Bannon Communications Research. His podcast, Deadline D.C. with Brad Bannon, airs on Periscope TV and the Progressive Voices Network. His Twitter handle is @BradBannon