Infrastructure and Reconciliation Bills Undermine Competition With China

COMMENTARY Budget and Spending

Infrastructure and Reconciliation Bills Undermine Competition With China

Aug 13th, 2021 3 min read

Commentary By

Jessica Anderson

Executive Director of Heritage Action for America

James Jay Carafano @JJCarafano

Vice President, Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute

U.S. President Joe Biden participates in a virtual meeting on Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act on August 11, 2021 in Washington, D.C. Alex Wong / Getty Images

Key Takeaways

Congress is now contemplating legislative action that could completely undermine our capacity to compete with China.

The Biden-approved infrastructure and budget reconciliation bills moving through Congress will saddle the economy with unprecedented debt.

Friends and allies around the world who look at these bills objectively will conclude that claims they will strengthen American competitiveness are laughable.

“We have met the enemy, and they are us,” declared Walt Kelly in the comic strip Pogo. When it comes to dealing with China, the greatest threat to the peace, freedom, and prosperity of all Americans, he could well be right.

Congress is now contemplating legislative action that could completely undermine our capacity to compete with China. And time is running out for people to tell Congress to stop before it is too late.

President Joe Biden swept into the Oval Office promising that the China threat would be no sweat. But it has proven more challenging than he expected. Beijing has become even more aggressive, both in action (ramping up naval exercises in the South China Sea, cracking down on pro-democracy dissidents in Hong Kong) and in word (threatening to invade Taiwan and nuke Japan if it intervenes), publicly deriding the United States as a “power in decline” and brazenly accusing the U.S. of being responsible for the global COVID-19 pandemic.

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The Democratic-controlled House seems all but oblivious to this. Speaker Nancy Pelosi seems consumed with pushing highly partisan, liberal pipe dreams: the "Green New Deal," a federal takeover of our elections, amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants, and more. The lack of seriousness about China among House and Senate Democratic leadership has only added to Biden’s problems.

Today, China’s communist masters must be exchanging high-fives as they watch the twin disasters of the infrastructure bill and the budget reconciliation package advance in Congress. Here is why.

China believes in one thing: hard power. It cares about what America can do to protect itself and thwart Beijing’s efforts to reshape the free world to its liking. Thus far, Biden’s policies have demurred from standing up to China. His policies have been self-limiting and self-weakening, making the U.S. less able to compete. This only makes making Beijing more confident and aggressive. Here are just some examples.

The Biden-approved infrastructure and budget reconciliation bills moving through Congress will saddle the economy with unprecedented debt. The Congressional Budget Office projects that the trillion-dollar infrastructure bill alone will add $256 billion to the debt. Layer on the spending and tax increases in the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation measure, and even Beijing could not have envisioned a better initiative to slow U.S. economic growth. Diminishing the paychecks of the average person with inflation and weak growth will only advance the Chinese narrative that they are outpacing the U.S. free enterprise system.

In addition, there is a long wish list of liberal priorities requiring reckless public spending that will crowd out adequate funding for the basic responsibilities of federal governance. For example, Biden wants to almost double spending on the Department of Education (stuffed with critical race theory, of course), yet he has proposed a defense budget that won’t even keep up with the cost of inflation. There is zero chance that filling the coffers of our teachers unions will encourage Beijing to tone down its act.

Biden has also insisted that he wants the budget reconciliation bill to include a raft of “amnesty” measures, even as it dramatically slashes funds for immigration enforcement and border security. We already have a crisis at our southern border. This is guaranteed to open the floodgates and blow them off their hinges.

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China is already exploiting our porous border. The Mexican cartels pouring fentanyl into the U.S. produce the lethal drug using precursor chemicals sourced from China. Both China and the cartels are making billions—and killing tens of thousands of Americans (93,000 in 2020 alone). The longer the border remains wide open, the more China and other malicious actors will find new ways to exploit and weaken us.

The Biden team is also using these legislative vehicles to implement the "Green New Deal." Everything about the deal screams advantage China. America will lose its energy independence. Increasingly, Americans will be forced to buy (less efficient) green energy technologies manufactured in, wait for it, China. And, even as these provisions hamstring our economy, China will continue to grow as the world’s most prolific polluter. In short, the "Green New Deal" pays China to impoverish America.

Friends and allies around the world who look at these bills objectively will conclude that claims they will strengthen American competitiveness are laughable. They will see them for what they are: “progressive leaders” surrendering to China in order to drive a radical domestic political agenda.

This piece originally appeared in the Washington Examiner