August 2, 2021

An Abominable Infrastructure Bill

Checking in at a whopping 2,702 pages, the $1 trillion bill is anything but targeted.

It seems like only yesterday when a high-ranking Democrat told us, “We have to pass the bill so that you can, uh, find out what is in it.”

That, of course, was House Speaker Nancy Pelosi back in 2010 doing Barack Obama’s dirty work to help ram through Congress a 2,700-page obscenity known as the Affordable Care Act. And while Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has so for refrained from saying something so stupid this time around, the bipartisan Senate committee that’s been hammering out a massive “infrastructure” bill has been perfectly willing to follow the same secretive ObamaCare playbook. As the Wall Street Journal editorial board reported over the weekend:

Senators have negotiated behind closed doors for weeks over the details of their bipartisan infrastructure bill, and the legislative language was finally expected to be finished late Sunday. Yet Majority Leader Chuck Schumer plans to jam the $1 trillion legislation through this week before most Americans will even know what’s in it.

“Given the thoroughly bipartisan nature of the bill, I expect we will be able to consider all the relevant amendments and finish the bill in a matter of days,” Mr. Schumer said. But being “bipartisan” is hardly reassuring. The infrastructure bill is being written by a handful of Senators, though you can be sure lobbyists are all over the details if not in the room.

They’ve indeed finished writing the bill, and they’ve made it available for your perusal. But you’d better hurry: Schumer wants this bill and a separate budget-busting $3.5 trillion package of child care, education, antipoverty, and climate provisions wrapped up and ready for Joe Biden’s signature before Congress’s August recess, which is scheduled to begin next Monday, August 9, and last through September 10.

This orgy of spending comes at a particularly inopportune time, too, given that the nation’s second-quarter GDP numbers were well off the mark. As the Business Insider headline blares, “US GDP badly missed growth estimates in the 2nd quarter — but the economy is still bigger than it was before the COVID-19 recession.”

When all else fails, print more money. As National Review grimly notes: “The Biden administration’s own estimates foresee debt as a share of the economy surpassing the World War II record this year. And Fed chairman Jerome Powell, who had been insisting that inflation is going to be transitory, has conceded that it will take longer to abate than he previously expected.”

Not to be deterred, senators will soon begin marking up the infrastructure bill. As the Associated Press reports: “Despite the hurry-up-and-wait during a rare weekend session, emotions bubbled over once the bill was produced Sunday night. The final product was not intended to stray from the broad outline senators had negotiated for weeks with the White House.”

We, of course, haven’t yet read the entire infrastructure bill. Nor do we plan to. Nor does anyone else on planet earth plan to. But because we’re deeply suspicious of its contents, we wondered about its page count, which, if nothing else, demonstrates both a sense of moment and a respect for legislative abominations past. How so? Just like the original ObamaCare bill, this one tips the scales at more than 2,700 pages.

Here, at least for once, Karl Marx was right: “History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.”

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