Dave was a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy (1961): big belly, gig line off by about three inches, breakfast on his shirt---you get the idea. But Dave was grounded, and he knew that he would never be an admiral, not because he wasn’t competent---he was the epitome of competence---but because he lacked the image of what a flag officer should look like.
Standing watch with Dave one night he talked about leadership, making tough decisions, and that if ever he was court-martialed for some failure, it would be for an act of commission and not omission. He was emphatic that he could not live with himself if he failed to act when action was called for. He was comfortable with going down for making a wrong decision.
I don’t know if Dave had the words of John F. Kennedy in mind, a heroic naval officer in his own right, who said, “There are risks and costs to action. But they are far less than the long range risks of comfortable inaction.” I never forgot Dave’s admonition, and I have tried to live my own life accordingly. I leave it to others to decide if I have.
I give former president Donald Trump credit for his promise in 2016 to pass an infrastructure bill. He understood that it was long overdue and that it would be a monumental boost to the economy.
But as with his two other cornerstone promises (repeal and replace Obamacare; Mexicans to pay for the wall), he failed to deliver. In April 2019, Trump met with then Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House speaker Nancy Pelosi. They reached an informal agreement on a $2 trillion infrastructure bill, and agreed to meet in three weeks to give them time to devise a plan on how to pay for it.
When Schumer and Pelosi returned to the White House as scheduled, Trump didn’t even sit down. He ripped into Pelosi for allowing the House to investigate him and stormed out to a waiting gaggle of media---a planned and staged event.
In the meanwhile our bridges, water and sewage systems, roads, extending broadband to rural areas, and so much more continued to deteriorate or go unaddressed. Neither Richard Nixon nor Bill Clinton stopped governing when they were under investigation, but Trump is in his own class.
Just last week Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said that “one-hundred percent of our focus is on stopping this administration.” Right after Barack Obama took his first oath of office on January 20, 2009, McConnell said that his number one priority was to defeat the president in 2012.
In other words, legislating was secondary to partisanship and still is. Some things don’t change in Washington, especially when a career politician like McConnell wields such enormous power and is an expert at using it to his personal advantage.
Biden has proposed raising corporate taxes, among others, to pay for his infrastructure plan. The outcry from Republicans has been deafening. Yet, in 2020, fifty –five Fortune 500 companies didn’t pay any corporate taxes. FedEx and Nike are among a number of these large corporations that haven’t paid the tax in three years. Does anyone doubt that these non-payers use our infrastructure? Who do they expect to pay for it?
Sure, the same companies pay other taxes, to include the gasoline tax, which is supposed to pay for our roads. But the federal portion of that tax hasn’t increased since 1993. In other words, there are those who either enjoy or need reliable infrastructure for their personal lives or businesses to run smoothly, but they don’t want to pay for it. By some magic it will all take care of itself.
Democrats helped pass Trump’s first Covid pandemic relief bill. Democrats had to do it on their own under Biden. Republicans have feined an interest in working with Democrats to pass an infrastructure bill, but what they propose they know is no meaningful compromise. What it does, though, is allow Republicans to tell their constituents that it isn’t they who are unreasonable.
Biden will never be accused of failing by omission. He is moving forward with or without the Republicans. He has offered to compromise on the infrastructure bill by breaking it into parts, and he is willing to work with Republicans on how to pay for it. The money spent will roar through the economy and put top professionals such as engineers, architects, manufacturers, administrators, et al, back to work. The money they spend will actually trickle down to countless smaller businesses. And each recipient of government spending will pay taxes on that money as well as the trickle down beneficiaries.
Based on McConnell’s intransigence on taxes and supporting solutions that could in any way inure to the benefit of Democrats and the American people, Biden will have to go it alone. General George Patton said to give him an imperfect plan now rather than a perfect one two hours from now. Biden gets it. Rebuilding our infrastructure can’t wait for politicians to sit it out. The train has left the station. Look for McConnell to be standing on the platform.