President Joe Biden is set to announce a multi-trillion-dollar infrastructure bill this week, and while much of the bill remains a mystery, the plan is expected to include major refurbishments to physical infrastructure, including America’s existing federal highways and railways.
But, according to a Thursday report in The Washington Post, the White House is being warned that too much focus on “physical” infrastructure could lose the bill support among minorities because such a focus would represent “nostalgia” for an era where “working class whites” benefitted from government welfare and could be considered both “racist” and “sexist.”
“Some people close to the White House said they feel that the emphasis on major physical infrastructure investments reflects a dated nostalgia for a kind of White working-class male worker,” the Post noted Thursday. “In private discussions with the White House National Economic Council, the Council of Economic Advisers and the Domestic Policy Council, SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry urged the administration to follow through on its promise to approve major investments in the care economy.”
The problem lies, of course, with “centrist” Democrats, who are supportive of physical infrastructure improvements because Republicans are also likely to back spending on roads, bridges, and buildings, particularly if they can be convinced that their constituencies will ultimately benefit from such work.
Far-left Democrats want the multi-trillion-dollar bill, President Joe Biden’s second such spending bill in less than three months, to include aspects of the Green New Deal as well as sweeping welfare programs, and the “centrists” are winning the battle for the White House’s attention, especially given that their priorities are less likely to cause a jump in the bill’s price tag, forcing the White House to find new sources of revenue.
“Over the past two months, leading business groups privately told the administration that the infrastructure package should be focused primarily on physical capital projects — such as roads and bridges — rather than on the caregiving priorities, such as child care, three people familiar with the internal conversations said. Lobbyists urged the White House to jettison the care economy investments, which also would reduce the amount of tax revenue necessary to fund the package,” the Post said.
There are plenty of reasons why physical infrastructure investments may seem more reasonable to the Biden administration, particularly given how difficult it could be getting a second major spending bill through a narrowly divided Senate, but activists pressing for “care” investments seem to believe the only reason the White House is avoiding “care” investments is long-standing racial bias and Patriarchial thinking.
“We’re up against a gender and racial bias that this work is not worth as much as the rubber, steel and auto work of the past century,” one activist pressing for progressive programs said. “The key job right now is we have to in the public imagination and in the congressional debate widen the lens, so that people understand that investment in caregiving is an investment in infrastructure.”
The sharpest critic of the infrastructure bill has, so far, been Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), who called the bill a good start but pressed for a much larger — $10 trillion — spending program in an interview with MSNBC.
The bill, she said, was an “inspiring vision,” but not nearly costly enough.
“We are in a devastating economic moment … we’re the wealthiest nation in the history of the world. So, we can do $10 trillion,” she said.
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