Matthew in the Middle | Infrastructure bill passage needed


“Almost Heaven, West Virginia

Take Me Home, Sen. Joe Manchin”

The most powerful man in the free world is Sen. Manchin. He’s a Democratic Senator from the reddest state, where Trump won West Virginia by almost 40 points. Manchin has earned an average of over $520,000 per year in dividends from Enersystems, a coal company he founded in 1988. He’s the key vote in President Biden’s infrastructure bills.

Go big or go bust. Who here’s against repairing our crumbling infrastructure? Go on, raise your hand and state proudly, “I’m fine with our crappy roads and bridges that may collapse any day now.” Unfortunately, we need to repair our political divide in Washington, D.C., between the two Americas before we can repair our roads, railways, bridges, subways, airports, ports, water, sewer and broadband expansion. Anyone driven down Henderson Street lately?

Every presidential candidate campaigns on fixing our deteriorating infrastructure. Then we get involved in a war or do some giant tax cut and don’t have the funds to pay for the infrastructure repairs, so we get what we have today — political in-fighting, where the Progressive Democrats fight the moderate Democrats, who fight the Republicans. This infrastructure bill could be the best bill ever, bringing millions of jobs that repair a broken America and that’s the main reason the Republicans will be against it. Can’t give the Democrats any credit coming into our 2022 mid-term elections. They would rather screw America over for political reasons versus make our lives better. Welcome to politics.

Transformational legislation has only been accomplished by a few Presidents. FDR had the New Deal, where he created the Civilian Conservation Corps and the Tennessee Valley Association. He created the Emergency Banking Act, which gave us the federal deposit insurance on our banking funds and stabilized our banking system. He created the Social Security Administration giving seniors a lifetime pension.

To put things in perspective, the top federal marginal income taxes rates in 1964 were 91%. President Lyndon B. Johnson cut the top marginal rates down to 71%. He created the Great Society, where he gave us the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965. He created Medicare and Medicaid to offer health care for seniors and the poor. He created the Food Stamps Act of 1964 and he would have done more if not for being sucked into the quagmire of the Vietnam War.

In case you haven’t been following closely, President Biden has proposed two giant infrastructure bills, $1.5 trillion physical infrastructure bill and $3.5 trillion “Build Back Better” people infrastructure bill, which the Republicans are calling “Build Back Broke.” Could be why I thought it was “Broke Back Mountain.” Democrats have a habit of poor messaging. This isn’t a $3.5 trillion bill, it’s a $350 billion bill for 10 years. Billion sounds better than that big, bad trillion number.

The best part is we can pay for this transformational legislation without raising your taxes one dollar unless you make more than $400,000 per year. In other words, it taxes the wealthiest 1% and corporations. 99% of American’s tax bills won’t change. The fact is, 55 of the Fortune 500 companies paid zero income tax or received a tax refund last year. That’s sad. Think about the government making all American lives better by making billionaires and corporations pay their fair share. Pretty simple, huh?

Unfortunately, to get the American Jobs Plan physical infrastructure bill passed, the Progressives want to pass the Build Back Better bill first, which will make community colleges tuition-free nationwide, create universal pre-school, lower prescription drug costs, and they’re still fighting for a $15 per hour national minimum wage.

This bill will probably pass in Congress and then it heads to the Senate where the Democrats have 50 votes and the Republicans 50 votes against with Vice President Kamala Harris as the tie-breaking vote. However, we have Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin. Manchin wants to lower the $3.5 trillion infrastructure bill down to $2.2 trillion. He wants to get people back to work by further slashing the unemployment benefits. As mentioned above, Manchin is trying to walk a thin blue line in deep-red West Virginia. He has to keep his voters happy along with the Democrats. It’s gonna be another interesting week of horse-trading between the White House, Congress and the K Street lobbyists of who gets what.

Matthew Owen resides in Eureka, and believes the First Amendment allows for free speech.


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