Congress Continues Spending Spree With Irresponsible Infrastructure Deal

COMMENTARY Budget and Spending

Congress Continues Spending Spree With Irresponsible Infrastructure Deal

Aug 4th, 2021 3 min read
COMMENTARY BY
David Ditch

Policy Analyst, Grover M. Hermann Center for the Federal

David is a policy analyst in the Grover M. Hermann Center for the Federal Budget at The Heritage Foundation.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer arrives at the Capitol Building on August 04, 2021 in Washington, D.C. Anna Moneymaker / Getty Images

Key Takeaways

This spree threatens to further needlessly bankrupt the entire country and drive the United States closer to socialism.

The deal will still likely add hundreds of billions to the national debt, which is already $28.5 trillion, or $220,000 per household in America.

To put it in perspective, $6.5 trillion is over $50,000 for every household in the country.

Impulsiveness, one of the defining features of a spending spree, happens when a person stops caring about cost, value, or financing for a period of time. This person just wants as many things as possible.

Reckless spending tends to occur when someone did not obtain the money through hard work or smart investing. There are dozens of examples of lottery winners who burn through millions on big homes, fancy cars, and jewelry, only to end up with more debt than they had before the windfall.

Similarly, because elected officials spend using taxpayer dollars—other people’s money rather than funds they have earned themselves—they often fail to take proper care.

The Senate’s $1.1 trillion infrastructure bill is the latest boondoggle in an epic spending spree. Unlike a situation in which an individual lottery winner winds up broke, this spree threatens to further needlessly bankrupt the entire country and drive the United States closer to socialism.

While supporters of the infrastructure deal claim it will help the economy, details in the 2,702-page bill suggest otherwise.

Rather than focusing on practical matters that can generate the most value, in classic spending-spree fashion, this deal throws money in dozens of directions, including electric buses, environmental cleanup, weed control, and even a $10 million carve-out for bees.

This deal checks boxes for interest groups and lobbyists. Many of the items have nothing whatsoever to do with enhancing economic growth. It’s also an exercise in expanding federal control to areas that are typically local responsibilities, including drinking water, or part of the private sector, including broadband internet and energy.

Even transportation spending is a mess. Although transit and rail only account for a tiny amount of travel, this deal would add as much money to mass transit and Amtrak as it would for roads and bridges. It also maintains red tape, making it harder to finance airports and highways without federal micromanagement.

Senators are failing to responsibly own up to the price tag.

“Pay-fors” such as spectrum auctions and customs fees have absolutely nothing to do with the spending, breaking from the bipartisan understanding that infrastructure costs should be covered by the people who use it. Worse, the deal will still likely add hundreds of billions to the national debt, which is already $28.5 trillion, or $220,000 per household in America.

This is not even the first dubious spending deal of the year. Democrats passed a deeply flawed $1.9 trillion package in March that hid opportunistic bailouts for left-leaning special interests. In short, that bill was less than 10% about fighting COVID-19, and more about spending on unnecessary bailouts.

Amazingly, these two behemoth spending bills combined are smaller than what’s still to come: a $3.5 trillion monstrosity that could include amnesty for illegal immigrants, a massive expansion of the welfare state, job-killing tax hikes, the Green New Deal, and more.

The profoundly radical $3.5 trillion package is joined to the infrastructure deal at the hip: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.; Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.; and prominent members such as Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., have repeatedly vowed that the infrastructure deal and the partisan $3.5 trillion package will move to President Joe Biden’s desk in unison.

That means Republicans’ support for the infrastructure deal threatens to enable the biggest tax-and-spend legislation in history.

The 2021 spending spree could come to a total of $6.5 trillion. Such an incredible amount of money is hard to comprehend.

To put it in perspective, $6.5 trillion:

  • Is over $50,000 for every household in the country.
  • Is more than the cost of World War II and Obamacare combined after adjusting for inflation.
  • Would take 203 years of spending $1,000 per second to reach.

The end result of all that spending will be more centralized power and control for legislators and bureaucrats in Washington, D.C., more people depending on government for their day-to-day lives, higher taxes, slower growth, and potentially disastrous inflation.

The reckless spending spree won’t just waste hard-earned taxpayer dollars and drive us deeper in debt. It will move America further from the principles that have made it the greatest nation in the history of the world.

Congress must reverse course and recover its fiscal sanity as soon as possible.

This piece originally appeared in The Daily Signal