There are times when Americans are concerned with the national debt. Now is not one of them.
A top Republican in the United States Senate has urged President Joe Biden to scale down his ambitious, $2.25 trillion infrastructure bill, which includes investments in roads, bridges, elderly care and green energy.
In an interview with ABC News programme This Week, Senator Roy Blunt said on Sunday that the bill would be an “easy, bipartisan win” for Biden if it were to concentrate more closely on physical infrastructure investments.
“You’ve got an easy bipartisan win here if you’ll keep this package nearly focused on infrastructure,” said Blunt, chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee, according to a transcript of the interview.
“When people think about infrastructure, they’re thinking about roads, bridges, ports and airports. That’s a very small part of what they’re calling an infrastructure package,” he said.
Biden on Wednesday unveiled the broad infrastructure spending package, which includes funding for everything from roads and bridges to broadband and elderly care, along with higher corporate taxes.
The president has said the plan would help the US economy rebound from a coronavirus-related downturn, creating 19 million new jobs for hard-hit Americans.
“Independent analysis shows that if we pass this plan the economy will create 19 million jobs,” Biden told reporters on Friday, according to Bloomberg. “Good jobs, blue-collar jobs, jobs that pay well.”
But the proposal drew immediate backlash from Republicans, who favour less government spending overall.
Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said last week that if the plan would lead to “massive tax increases and trillions more added to the national debt”, then it was unlikely to receive the party’s support.
The infrastructure proposal is the second massive government spending package introduced since Biden took office in January, after his $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill narrowly passed in Congress and was signed into law in March.
That bill also had faced opposition from Republicans, who criticised its high price tag.
US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on Sunday defended the infrastructure plan, telling ABC News’ This Week programme that “there’s a lot more than roads and bridges that are part of infrastructure”.
Buttigieg said he hopes Republicans would come around to the proposal.
“This is one area where the American people absolutely want to see us get it done, where members on both sides of the aisle have been talking about getting it done for a long time,” he said.
“I think this is something that everybody can get behind, and we’re going to keep working to try to earn that support across the aisle.”