Speed Reads

infrastructure week

What we fight about when we fight about infrastructure

President Biden unveiled his American Jobs Plan on Wednesday, describing the $2.3 trillion infrastructure initiative as a big, bold, "once-in-a-generation investment in America." Many Republicans immediately opposed the proposal.

"Infrastructure is often described as the ultimate bipartisan policy," but the GOP opposition to Biden's plan is "really just the latest proof that infrastructure has become the ultimate partisan battleground," Michael Grunwald writes at Politico.

"There's widespread support across the political aisle to upgrade the nation's infrastructure," The Washington Post reports. But Republicans, who lowered the corporate tax rate to 21 percent three years ago from 35 percent, oppose Biden's (broadly popular) plan to raise it to 28 percent, and point out he's paying for eight years of infrastructure-adjacent spending with 15 years of those higher corporate taxes. Many progressives want Biden to spend more and question the need to pay for the plan at all, arguing that infrastructure spending more than pays for itself.

But the bigger, irreconcilable difference Biden faces, Grunwald writes, is that "Democrats and Republicans now have very different ideas of what counts as infrastructure, not only because of their very different political philosophies and policy goals, but because they now live in very different places with very different needs." Republicans favor infrastructure like "new highways that connect rural communities and promote exurban sprawl," where GOP voters live, he argues, and they "see most of what Biden proposed as 'Democratic infrastructure,'" targeting "Democratic voters who overwhelmingly live close together in racially diverse cities and transit-friendly inner-ring suburbs."

In that sense, "infrastructure has really become a fight over how Americans will live in the future," Grunwald writes.

Vibrant cities aren't just full of Democrats; vibrant cities create Democrats by drawing newcomers into the urban way of life that seems to make Americans feel more positive about diversity and government and other Democratic values. Similarly, propping up rural areas makes it more likely for rural children to become rural adults who seem much more likely to vote Republican.

When Republicans fight the Biden bill, they won't just be fighting investments in blue areas of the country. They'll be fighting to prevent the blue areas of the country from getting ahead, getting more attractive, and converting their kids. [Michael Grunwald, Politico]

Read more of Grunwald's analysis at Politico.