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Paying for infrastructure

According to the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, President Joe Biden’s proposed American Jobs Plan — a $2.65 trillion infrastructure, job training, and research and development strategy — would actually reduce the projected national debt in the long run. That is the case because of the way Biden proposes paying for it, with corporate tax increases that would remain in place even after the planned investment is fully paid within 15 years.

Yet it is hard to take any solace in the projection that the debt will be quite bad, just not as bad.

Following the enactment of the American Rescue Plan, the deficit watchdog group projected that federal debt held by the public will reach 108% of Gross Domestic Product this fiscal year, breaking the record 106% seen just after World War II.

Under the Biden plan of infrastructure investment and increased taxation, the national debt is projected to reach 146% of GDP by 2041, as opposed to 149% without it.

All this highlights the foolishness of the position being taken by Republicans in Congress — that they support investment in infrastructure, but not the tax increases to pay for it. We agree with the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget that “it is critical that Congress follow the President’s lead and fully offsets any new spending initiatives.”

There is plenty of room for negotiation if Republicans — and fiscally conservative Democrats such as West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin — are serious about fixing the nation's crumbling infrastructure and creating jobs, and not in just being obstructionists.

The size of the infrastructure package could be debated and reduced. It is massive by historical standards. Republicans could propose places in the federal budget where spending can be trimmed. But a tax increase in some form is necessary. The math is obvious. The responsible-budget group points to potentially raising taxes on the wealthy who have seen a dramatic accumulation of their wealth.

It would be irresponsible, a risk to national security, and an unfair burden placed on future generations to continue spending without providing offsetting revenue to pay for it. Infrastructure investment is needed. Polls show the public supports the plan, including raising taxes to pay for it. Corporate taxes are at historic lows. The American public should demand their elected representatives get serious about solving problems and display a willingness to find the compromises necessary to do so.

The Day editorial board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and convenes weekly to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Tim Dwyer, Editorial Page Editor Paul Choiniere, Managing Editor Izaskun E. Larrañeta, staff writer Erica Moser and retired deputy managing editor Lisa McGinley. However, only the publisher and editorial page editor are responsible for developing the editorial opinions. The board operates independently from the Day newsroom.


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