President Biden’s recent $2 trillion infrastructure bill reflects the Democratic Party’s perfect inversion of how politics is supposed to work. Democrats know that almost everyone in America wants to repair and improve America’s infrastructure.
So, rather than draft a bill to give Americans what they paid for, Democrats are planning a wave of handouts to favored groups and are calling it "infrastructure" in the hopes the public won’t notice.
Only five percent of the proposed bill would actually improve America’s roads and bridges.
In fact, it will spend $20 billion destroying some highways and bridges because their very construction was (what else?) racist, according to the left.
Instead of bedrock infrastructure concerns, there is a lobbyist feeding frenzy to funnel money to virtually every group rich enough to hire a lobbyist (in other words, not the hard-working American tax-payer).
To pay for the bonanza, the Biden administration would raise the corporate tax rate by a third, from 21 percent to 28 percent.
That would make America’s corporate tax rate one of the highest among advanced economies and would even put us back above China’s 25 percent rate.
America deserves better.
The Biden administration is actually right on one thing: A good infrastructure bill means more than repairing the roads.
But instead of redefining every university administrator and home health aide as "infrastructure," if America is going to spend big, it should spend big on repairing America’s national security infrastructure.
As a global superpower, America was once impervious to coercion from foreign powers. Now, a combination of outsourcing, globalization, and sheer neglect has left America more insecure than ever.
We saw that firsthand with the coronavirus pandemic, which exposed America’s enormous reliance on China to manufacture essential pharmaceuticals and medical equipment.
A new infrastructure surge should find these strategic vulnerabilities and eliminate them. Obviously, finishing President Trump’s border wall would be a good start, but there are other initiatives that even Biden voters should be happy to support.
One of the best uses of our money would be maintaining America as the hegemon of the Internet.
Since 2013, China has built a new fiber infrastructure at nine times the pace of America. Biden’s infrastructure plan includes $100 billion to construct universal broadband Internet access here.
But in fine Democratic fashion, Biden’s plan would spend billions installing wired broadband Internet in places where wireless Internet is more than enough, not in states like Wyoming, which is in desperate need of broadband investment.
In short, the plan will enrich the companies and co-ops doing the installation instead of insisting on rapidly connecting rural Americans with broadband.
There is a better way.
While it may not be as pretty as a bridge, one of the simplest ways America can strengthen itself is by securing its vast network of undersea cables.
The U.S. controls hundreds of undersea cables, which are a critical part of our country’s economic and political clout. Ninety-eight percent of the world’s data passes through them.
In the event of a military conflict, America’s undersea cables will be one of the first targets. Yet America has passively treated cable maintenance as an exclusively commercial concern.
We’ve allowed China’s Huawei Marine to build or repair nearly a quarter of the world’s undersea cables.
America should treat these cables as the critical national security infrastructure they are, footing the bill for their maintenance if necessary and doing whatever is needed to protect them from tampering by rival powers.
It would do far more to protect America’s basic security than any intervention in the Middle East and would be far cheaper.
Another worthy goal for an America-first infrastructure plan is breaking China’s stranglehold on strategic natural resources. The seventeen so-called rare earth minerals are essential components in modern technology and modern military hardware, and we expect the demand to double by 2030.
Despite America’s enormous endowment of natural resources, we have allowed China to establish a near-monopoly on their mining and processing. Eighty percent of America’s rare earth minerals are imported from China. Our allies like Japan are similarly dependent.
What if instead of dumping billions into the hands of corporatists and swampy lobbyists, America spent a fraction of that on building up our own rare earths infrastructure, thus ensuring our 21st-century economy is never hostage to the dictates of Beijing?
New mines and processing facilities would create new skilled jobs, which could, in turn, strengthen other industries as well. And almost certainly, America could mine rare earth metals with far less pollution than China.
The American middle class would benefit, America would be more secure, and we would be less reliant on our top geopolitical rival.
Not only that, U.S. government could spend a fraction of our tax dollars than Biden plans to burn through tearing up existing roads and enriching the SEIU and other leftwing unions.
Of course, that may be precisely why Biden won’t do it.
Catharine O'Neill served at the Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development from the first day to the last day of President Donald J. Trump's administration. The issues that she focused on included religious freedom, immigration, UN reform, and protecting life. Read Catharine O'Neill's Reports - More Here.
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