NEARLY one-fourth of New Hampshire’s federal gas tax allocation is spent on something other than roads and bridges. That comes to more than $42 million a year being frittered away.
So when our congressional delegation starts selling you on President Joe Biden’s so-called infrastructure plan, remember this: it’s not an infrastructure plan. It’s a partisan wish list that would spend trillions on everything under the sun, 95% of which has nothing to do with infrastructure.
We need to stop wasting what we’re already getting.
The vast majority of the evolving bill’s spending would go to special-interest projects that are little more than payback for well-connected constituencies.
As a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Rep. Chris Pappas is well-positioned to do something about this boondoggle, and we urge him to press for real reforms that would speed progress on high-priority projects while not wasting several trillion dollars doling out political favors. We hope his Granite State colleagues will follow suit.
Let’s keep this proposal in perspective. With a price tag of more than $4 trillion, this measure would cost more than the entire federal government spent only a few years ago.
And it would impose $2.75 trillion in new taxes on working families and small businesses that are only now beginning to emerge from more than a year of COVID-19 lockdowns.
Even the massive tax increase, which ostensibly would pay for this monstrosity, is budgetary smoke and mirrors. The “temporary” 15-year tax increase would pay for only eight years of spending. So, you can count on more taxes and more borrowing well into the future.
Unfortunately, New Hampshire’s children and grandchildren will be paying for a long time to come.
What are we, and they, getting for our money?
More than $1 trillion would go to corporate welfare that would give the federal government tighter control over our health care, as well as the manufacturing and energy sectors.
Supporters claim all this spending would create 2.7 million jobs. Do the math on that one. In the unlikely event that dubious number came to pass, the cost would be more than $800,000 a job, hardly what you would call good stewardship of the taxpayers’ money.
Once again, as was the case with much of the wasteful coronavirus relief spending, the federal government is trying to go big when it ought to go smart.
To make matters worse, the proposal also lumps in the anti-worker Protecting the Right to Organize Act, which, among other things, would take away 27 states’ right to work laws and block efforts to implement one here in New Hampshire. Workers should not be compelled to join or pay to support a union as a condition of employment. The PRO Act would mandate that New Hampshire workers are deprived of that right.
What should Congress do instead?
To begin with, stop diverting federal and state gas tax money to pet projects; the money is for roads and bridges, and that’s what it should be spent on.
Then stop inflating the cost and time it takes to finish projects by eliminating needless regulatory restrictions and expensive labor rules like the antiquated Davis-Bacon Act. Repeal of the Depression-era Davis-Bacon alone would save about $11 billion over a decade.
And, instead of bureaucrats in Washington deciding how New Hampshire spends its transportation funds, move those decisions closer to home.
Unfortunately, none of these reforms are found in the president’s plan. A Republican proposal is less wasteful, but also fails on the reform front.
Spending more for the sake of spending more is almost always a bad idea. We urge our lawmakers to be smarter than that.