Last week’s hard-fought passage of the $1.2 trillion federal infrastructure package is a win for the nation and for Indiana.
The state stands to gain nearly $9 billion to accelerate improvements to roads, bridges, water systems, ports and broadband, sorely needed infrastructure upgrades the government has long neglected.
The money, distributed over the next five years, will gin up Indiana’s construction economy, help the state preserve its standing as a transportation and logistics hub, and give more rural communities greater access to broadband commerce and remote job opportunities.
One key highway project that likely will be accelerated is the expansion of interstates 65 and 70 to six lanes across the entire state, as IBJ’s Emily Ketterer reports on page 5A.
At the federal level, it was refreshing to see a bipartisan approach that resulted in a responsible spending bill, rather than partisan bickering and frustrating gridlock.
The bill approved by Congress certainly isn’t as expansive as President Joe Biden’s initial $2.3 trillion proposal—and that’s a good thing.
Republicans were right to try to moderate spending to prevent unnecessarily adding to the national debt. And we acknowledge that the final product will still add $256 billion to the federal deficit.
But once a compromise was reached, we found it hard to argue against a measure that will address so many long-standing infrastructure needs. It was also difficult to understand why at least some Republican members of Indiana’s 11-member congressional delegation didn’t vote for the measure when national GOP leaders such as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell found value in it.
Among Indiana’s congressional delegation, only Democratic Reps. André Carson and Frank Mrvan voted for the package. And as ribbon-cutting ceremonies for new construction projects across the state are held, Republicans will find themselves in the awkward position of having to explain why they voted against the federal funding.
That’s not to say, however, that Republicans should drop their concerns about Democrats’ overly ambitious federal spending.
Their caution would be well-heeded as Congress debates the next phase of Biden’s agenda, a $1.85 trillion social policy and climate spending package with well-intentioned plans to help families afford child care and extend child tax credits.
The question now is how many trillion-dollar programs the nation can afford.
Cracks already are forming in Biden’s plan to help fund the social policy package by stepping up enforcement against tax evaders, The New York Times reported.
The Biden administration was counting on $400 billion from that effort over the next decade, but the director of the Congressional Budget Office said the number is more likely to be $120 billion.
Our hope is that Congress won’t do anything that leaves dutiful taxpayers holding the bag.•
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