Portman Op-Ed for the Wall Street Journal: An Infrastructure Bill That Works

July 29, 2021 | Portman Difference

In a new op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, Senator Portman discusses his new bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, a historic investment in repairing and upgrading our nation’s crumbling infrastructure. In the op-ed, Senator Portman discusses why he felt it was important to work to negotiate a bipartisan alternative to the Biden administration’s $2.65 trillion “infrastructure” proposal in the spring that went far beyond the core infrastructure needs of our nation and was funded in part by massive tax hikes on American workers and businesses.

As Portman discusses in the op-ed, opposition to the Biden plan led him and a bipartisan group of senators to work on an infrastructure bill that focused on core infrastructure, was not funded through tax hikes, and would be able to garner bipartisan support. Studies have shown this approach will grow the economy, raise wages, and lower the national debt. Importantly, it will not contribute to the rising inflation rate the United States is experiencing.

Portman closes by calling on Republicans to support this common-sense legislation to help working families across the country have access to better roads, bridges, ports, broadband, and other essential infrastructure needs.

Excerpts of the op-ed can be found below and the full op-ed can be found here.

An Infrastructure Bill That Works
By U.S. Senator Rob Portman
Wall Street Journal

Tax reform was a signature achievement of President Trump’s tenure. Before the pandemic, it helped fuel robust economic growth, leading to record low unemployment, higher wages, and the lowest poverty rate since the metric was established in 1959. Eliminating the 2017 reforms and imposing massive new tax hikes to fund huge spending increases for social programs will lead to even higher inflation, hurt working families, and disrupt our economic recovery.

This spring, Democrats used a special budget process to pass a purely partisan $1.9 trillion “pandemic relief” bill. And now, with the country already feeling the inflationary effects of this stimulus, they plan to use this same partisan budget process to pass another reckless tax and spending bill of at least $3.5 trillion that would further stall economic growth.

When the Biden administration turned its attention to infrastructure earlier this year, it proposed a $2.65 trillion “infrastructure” bill with destructive tax increases and billions in spending unrelated to core infrastructure. I joined Republican colleagues in strongly opposing the bill. I knew that the same special budget process that was used to pass the $1.9 trillion relief package could be used to jam the infrastructure bill through without a single Republican vote.

Instead of simply opposing the $2.65 trillion proposal, a bipartisan group of senators said we could support a real infrastructure bill as long as three criteria were met. First, that the legislation covered only core infrastructure, not all of the so-called human infrastructure in the $2.65 trillion Biden proposal. That bill would cost $550 billion.

Second, we committed not to raise taxes to pay for the needed infrastructure investments. Instead of the largest tax increase in U.S. history, which the Biden approach would have delivered, we agreed to no tax hikes.

Finally, we agreed to make it a truly bipartisan process, building the vote from the middle out. The result is the new Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which will make a long-awaited and historic investment in the nation’s infrastructure.

Just as important, according to a Penn Wharton study, the long-term spending from this infrastructure plan will improve economic efficiency and productivity while raising gross domestic product and government revenue.

During the debate over the Biden administration’s $1.9 trillion spending bill, some of us warned that increased stimulus spending would lead to an overheated economy and inflation. Unfortunately, those fears have been realized.

As economist Michael Strain wrote last week: “There are good reasons to believe this bipartisan infrastructure spending won’t be inflationary. Its focus is on improving longer-term productivity, not near-term demand. By strengthening the supply side of the economy, it would ease inflationary pressures. In addition, the spending would be spread out over a decade.”

The Democrats’ coming partisan tax and spending spree must be opposed, but infrastructure is different. As Republicans, we can and should be for common-sense solutions to the most pressing needs working families face every day. This bipartisan effort to improve U.S. infrastructure helps address those needs, and is worthy of our support.