It was infrastructure week on Facing the Future and we tried to “bridge” the divide between differing perspectives of President Biden’s $2.3 American Jobs Plan. Our guests were Ben Ritz, Director of the Center for Funding America’s Future at the Progressive Policy Institute, and Brian Riedl a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. Also joining the conversation was Concord Coalition policy director Tori Gorman.
The Biden plan is already generating controversy on Capitol Hill for its sweeping and unconventional definition of infrastructure, its large cost, and its method of financing. We asked Ritz and Riedl to share their thoughts on all this and to weigh-in on what changes might, or should, be made as the legislative process plays out.
“My broad view is that it's an excellent starting point,” Ritz said. “We have underinvested in things like infrastructure and R&D. We’ve had growing disrepair and maintenance backlogs. We’ve reduced R&D spending. I think it is long past time to restore our commitment to these important public investments that lay the foundation for economic growth.”
In Riedl’s view, however, the plan has “remarkably little bang for the buck,“ He pointed out that “for an infrastructure bill, the biggest line item in it is for $400 billion in long-term care, which good or bad policy, has nothing to do with infrastructure.” On the recommended $180 billion for R&D spending, Riedl expressed concern that it would amount to “too much central planning.”
Gorman noted that, “One of the things that this proposal does is ask us to think about infrastructure as a spectrum….The complicated part is trying to understand what is the appropriate role for the federal government. Where does it start in terms of providing and encouraging infrastructure buildout and where does it end?”
Hear more on Facing the Future. I host the program each week on WKXL, NHTalkRadio.com (N.H.), and it is also available via podcast. Join me and my guests as we discuss issues relating to national fiscal policy with budget experts, industry leaders, and elected officials. Past broadcasts are available here. You can subscribe to the podcast on Spotify, Pandora, iTunes, Google Podcasts, Stitcher or with an RSS feed. Follow Facing the Future on Facebook, and watch videos from past episodes on The Concord Coalition YouTube channel.