The fact that Mitch McConnell deputized Capito to “negotiate” is all anyone really needs to know about how seriously Republicans are taking this process. The longer Republicans can drag out any legislative process, the more opportunity Republicans have to sabotage it. That’s just how McConnell and crew operate. It appears to be working, with yet another concession coming from Biden to try to chase this elusive deal down.
Republicans have come up to just under $1 trillion in their latest offer, last week’s $928 billion plan. Which wasn’t really real, because it’s just $257 billion in new spending spread out over 8 years—they tack about $32 billion a year in new money on top of existing baseline spending already built in to budgets. And it isn’t really “new” money. They want to take it from any unspent coronavirus stimulus funds and from increased user fees. The first idea the U.S. Conference of Mayors, National League of Cities, and National Association of Counties really hate, because it’s money being diverted from their needs.
Biden has remained firm that there be $1 trillion in new spending. What is in the competing plans, if you can call what Republican have offered a “plan,” is far apart as well. Republicans double down on fossil fuel technologies—putting the bulk of the money into projects to move more cars around. It includes $506 billion for roads and bridges, with just $4 billion for electric vehicles. Biden’s proposal includes $174 billion for electric vehicles, including funds to construct 500,000 charging stations throughout the nation by 2030.
The Republicans have $72 billion for water systems; Biden has $111 billion to replace lead water pipes and upgrade sewer systems. The Republicans have $65 billion for broadband; Biden has $100 billion for high-speed broadband and a commitment to provide 100% coverage for the country. Biden has $400 billion for home health care, $100 billion for rebates to consumers for electric vehicles, $213 billion to build and renovate affordable housing and buildings, and $100 billion to upgrade and build new schools. None of that is in the Republican offer.
As of last week, Republicans were still fighting over what they call infrastructure, with Capito dismissing the care portion of Biden’s plan as “bringing their human infrastructure into this package,” which is “just a nonstarter for us.”
Republicans, Politico says are “starting to feel discouraged.” That’s assuming that Republicans actually went into this process with the intent to accomplish anything, but if anyone will give them the benefit of that doubt, it’s Politico. A source “familiar” with Republican thinking told them “I have a hard time seeing this go ahead because Republicans’ plans always have baseline included,” meaning they don’t want new spending. “I don’t think Senate Republicans are interested in $1 trillion in new spending, or changing the tax cuts … or raising other taxes—and that’s been clear from Day 1.”
And they’ve refused absolutely to budge from that. Which makes this not a negotiation. Biden already offered to cut his plan by $550 billion. He’s now offered what is essentially another corporate tax cut—down to 15% from the 21% Republicans established in 2017. Only to have Republicans run off to Politico to bitch about how he’s not working with them.
Biden has let this farce of negotiations go on for at least a month too long. If this is Biden trying to demonstrate to the few “moderate” Democrats that there’s nothing that Republicans will accept, he’s achieved that and it’s well past time that he move on.