Do you prefer direct links to content? Check out our brand new sister site at Uncanceled.news.
There’s much mockery of this cringy, quintessentially Gillibrandian tweet on political Twitter this afternoon. It has a “defund the police” vibe to it, not because it’ll seem sinister to the average joe but because it’s something only a strident progressive activist could take seriously.
Paid leave is infrastructure.
Child care is infrastructure.
Caregiving is infrastructure.
— Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) April 7, 2021
One person replied to her by paraphrasing, “Anything I want to funnel money into is infrastructure.” It reminds me of the Democrats’ attempt to bootstrap a $15 federal minimum wage into the COVID relief bill, which was ultimately denied by the Senate parliamentarian for procedural reasons. You could try to frame a minimum-wage boost conceptually as a subset of COVID relief if you like — certainly the argument for that is stronger than the idea that paid leave is “infrastructure” — but that’s not why Dems wanted to tack it on. They knew they couldn’t get the votes to raise the minimum wage in a standalone bill but had an outside chance of doing so in a big-ticket must-pass package like the stimulus bill. So they stretched the meaning of words, in this case “COVID relief,” to suit their legislative ambitions. Same with Gillibrand and “infrastructure.”
I’ll say this for her, too: Her tweet is true to the spirit of the bill the White House is pushing. The infrastructure package is just a giant slush fund to pay for a basket of social-welfare programs that have been on the Democrats’ wishlist for years. Real, actual infrastructure is in there too, of course, and because it is and because Joe Manchin seems open to blockbuster spending on it, they’re going to shoehorn as many other progressive priorities into the bill as they can. If that means redefining food stamps or whatever as “infrastructure,” that’s an easy leap. Remember, these are the same people who define speech as “violence” and due process as “guilty until proven innocent” in certain contexts. “Caregiving is infrastructure” is no great stretch for them. Kevin Williamson:
The problem is not federal infrastructure spending per se: The problem is “infrastructure” bills that are in fact political slush-funds. We go about infrastructure in a way that is precisely backward: Instead of figuring out, one project at a time, what needs doing and how to prioritize those demands — repaving this section of interstate highway, replacing that bridge — and then seeing what that all adds up to and making informed decisions about timing and tradeoffs, we come up with some silly round number — say, $2,000,000,000,000.00 — and then see if we can find a politically attractive way to shovel all that cash out the door. That is how you end up spending a lot of money on infrastructure without actually getting much infrastructure. It’s the national version of the paradox in which the roads of so many American cities are always being repaired but are never repaired…
Any dummy can spend $2 trillion: Put the cash on the table, and somebody is going to figure out a way to pick it up. Some of those people will be government contractors, some of them will be farmers who are keen on a subsidy, some of them will be rich guys in the Hamptons who don’t want to be on the hook for the entire sum of their local taxes, and so on — there’s no shortage of constituencies eager for federal largesse.