Negotiating Infrastructure as Concord Hits the Road

Special Guests: Carolyn Bordeaux,

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This week on Facing the Future we went from Georgia to Colorado and back to Washington, D.C. as we discussed the upcoming reconciliation bill, a view from the grassroots, and the 2021 Social Security and Medicare Trustees’ Report.

Our first guest was Representative Carolyn Bordeaux (D-GA). She is one of 10 moderate House Democrats who recently negotiated an agreement with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for a firm date of September 27 to vote on the Senate’s bipartisan infrastructure bill. While some House Democrats have argued that the infrastructure bill should be linked to passage of the broader and costlier reconciliation bill, Bordeaux said that it would be better to “get the win” on infrastructure without delay. “My concern is that if we delay until we get all of that done [reconciliation], the coalition will fall apart.”

On the reconciliation bill, Bordeaux said it would be “very challenging to do all of the priorities that we have.” For example, she estimated that extending the enhanced child tax credit for 10 years alone would account for $1.1 trillion of the $3.5 trillion in new spending authorized in the budget resolution’s reconciliation instructions.

Bordeaux observed that one of the good things to come out of the negotiations over infrastructure was that “I was able to have a number of conversations with the the Biden administration and they very much reiterated their commitment to pay for the whole [reconciliation] bill and try to make sure that we scale things appropriately to pay for it.”

In the second segment of the show, we hit the road with Concord Coalition National Field Director Phil Smith and Colorado Fiscal Lookout Brian Carter, who were conducting a series of events in Colorado last week. These included a Principles and Priorities budget exercise with college students at Colorado State University and presentations to the Rotary Clubs of Denver and Fort Collins. Carter said that understanding the nation’s fiscal challenges is often a two-part process: “The first part deals with whatever personal frustration there may be on any given topic, and then you can actually get to the bigger issues.”

And finally, we turned back to Washington where the Social Security and Medicare Trustees issued their 2021 report on the financial condition of those two important programs. Concord Coalition Policy Director Tori Gorman and Chief Economist Steve Robinson, a former senior policy adviser with the Social Security Administration, joined me for a “lightning round” on what stood out from the report. Spoiler alert: Politicians are ignoring some big problems with both programs. Cash flows are negative, actuarial balances are widening, and the projections might well be too optimistic.

Hear more on Facing the Future. I host the program each week on WKXL, (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 SpotifyPandoraiTunesGoogle PodcastsStitcher or with an RSS feed. Follow Facing the Future on Facebook, and watch videos from past episodes on The Concord Coalition YouTube channel.

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