The Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill Shows That Republicans Love Big Government Just as Much as Democrats

We don't have a gridlock problem. We have a spending problem.


If you follow the news, you may be under the impression that nothing ever gets done in Congress, and that Democrats and Republicans can't agree on any serious legislation. You aren't alone. Look at the inordinate praise the "bipartisan" infrastructure deal is getting. This widespread wonder highlights the mistaken belief that our awful hyperpartisan era brings about discord and gridlock in Washington. This common refrain is simply wrong.

To be sure, Democrats and Republicans don't enjoy sharing power or being constrained in how much money they can spend or how far they can extend Uncle Sam's reach into our lives. It's a fact that gridlock slows things down. But for those of us who still believe that the government should be smaller and more fiscally responsible, slowing things down is almost always a good thing. It certainly doesn't stop legislation from passing. How else can one explain the tremendous and rapid expansion of our budget, deficit, and debt?

Congress is always glad to pass legislation when it's in the members' interests. Just look at the past few months: Could a gridlocked Congress pass $6 trillion of COVID-19 relief dollars? Much of this took the form of subsidies to companies (that were doing fine) and wealth transfers to people (regardless of whether they incurred any pandemic losses). A bipartisan Congress bailed out airlines three times and sent trillions of dollars to the Small Business Administration to help during the pandemic, despite a long record of the agency always responding during disasters. Both Democrats and Republicans supported these efforts. They weren't party-line votes.

Bipartisanship in the Senate also produced the United States Innovation and Competition Act of 2021, formerly known as the Endless Frontier Act, "industrial policy" legislation that originally was intended to increase funding for applied industrial research and development but ended up being a very long list of corporate welfare handouts to some of the nation's largest and most profitable corporations with no strings attached.

We have $28 trillion in debt. Even if you ignore the last year, we didn't accumulate that much debt on a partisan basis. And we didn't just accumulate it during emergencies or even mostly through tax cuts. It's the product of many bipartisan agreements on massive government spending, year after year. That includes trillions in subsidies to farmers, loan guarantees for energy, infrastructure, small businesses, and exports. It includes ever-expanding entitlement programs. And most importantly, it includes willful neglect or a conscious disregard for how to pay for it.

Enter the bipartisan infrastructure bill. Everyone is amazed that Republicans, who refused to support President Biden's $2.3 trillion infrastructure bill, would be willing to compromise at $1.2 trillion. It must be a serious proposal if all these guys agree, right? No, it's not. It's just not as terrible as the bigger plan, though that's pretty much where the praise should end. You see, a dirty little secret in Washington is that Republicans love big government spending as much as Democrats do.

What they disagree on is the way to pay for it. But once they agreed to simply not pay for it, an agreement was pretty quick to reach. There would be no increase to the corporate income tax to make the GOP happy, in exchange for no increase in the gas tax and no fees on electric cars. Deal!

Meanwhile, there's still plenty of worthwhile legislation to do that none of them want to touch: Reforming our criminal justice system or the Jones Act isn't on anyone's agenda. What about asking this president to end his predecessor's tariffs? How about working on a comprehensive school choice agenda that would extend the ability to choose what school is best for our kids, rather than being stuck in a failing school system? Nobody's interested.

What we have today—and have had for years now—is not the product of gridlock, but the abdication of responsibility by Congress and the president for being good stewards of taxpayers' dollars. The plain fact is that neither party is working honestly to tackle the nation's most pressing issues, including our fiscal ones. It's easier to throw money at problems whether it will help or not, especially when today's intellectuals have produced a convenient narrative that the debt doesn't actually matter.


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    1. Reason isn’t even trying anymore.

      1. It does read like a parody

        1. Especially when they follow it up with the article "can PERU'S constitution survive a marxist onslaught"

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  1. Reason:

    When Republicans are in the Majority, they are the problem and drive bad outcomes.

    When Democrats are in the Majority, Republicans are the problem and drive bad outcomes by not being about to stop bad outcomes.

    1. Meanwhile, the LP loves big government as long as it is used to push lefty ideology like gay rights and welfare for illegals.

      1. Where did you get that idea?

        1. Rather than abolish state sanctioned marriage, libertarians pushed to legalize gay marriage because it keeps a government check on their pet ideology.
          Gay Jay repeatedly stated the government should force people to bake the cake. Presidential nominee.
          LP just came out with a "We have to let all the illegals in before we abolish the welfare state." position. Because they weren't far enough from winning elections.
          Now we're (and by we, I mean they) cheering government forcing trannies into women's restrooms.

          Paint it however you like. Whenever there's a "we could get rid of this and solve the problem or keep government there to enforce our beliefs", the LP will pick to keep government every time.

          1. So, would it be fair to categorize you as more of an ideological purist libertarian than a practical libertarian?

            1. What you mean is a libertarian over a leftist.

            2. Rather than trying to shift the goalposts you should have just acknowledge that he answered your question fully and fairly.

              If , on the other hand, you are making the case that Reason is the latter kind then just say it... Reason loves big government when it is practical for pushing their progressive social ideology - which is basically what he said.

              1. Dee’s brain just can’t compute that.

                1. Her cawgnitive abilities are limited.

                  1. It doesn’t help that she’s a quackhead.

    2. Funny, I see plenty of Reason articles blaming Democrats for Democratic spending.

      1. Don't read those articles. Ignore them. They don't exist. The only ones that exist are the ones where Reason shows of its leftist cred by being critical of Republicans and of Trump. Everything else is a figment of your imagination.

    3. While this whole premise is false, I would add that Republicans campaign as the party of limited government while Democrats campaign on platforms of big spending.

      So while it's fair to say that the Democrats are worse on spending, at least with Democrats you know what you're voting for. It's appropriate to point out Republican failures on an area where they are supposed to align with libertarian ideology. Nobody expects Democrats to care about massive spending.

      1. Here's how the House voted on their infrastructure bill today.

        Care to revise that statement of yours?

        1. Per Dee, bipartisan support!!!!!

  2. So looking at the timeline, who read Veronique’s piece at 6 am this morning, saw the negative headline with Biden’s name in it, and told her to rush out a “both sides!” retraction?

    And was she able to write this that fast, or does Reason just keep articles like this in the drawer for such occasions?

  3. You guys are stuck in a mindset. You ever think about the costs we pay when we don't fix the roads and improve the infrastructure? Whether it's traffic jams, accidents, damage to our cars, polluted water and air, transportation inefficiencies, I could go on.... we are paying one or the other.

    1. I agree that one of the roles of government ought to be to provide for basic infrastructure. But there is enough other useless spending in the budget that could be reallocated to pay for reasonable infrastructure maintenance, without having to raise taxes.

      1. *checks Constitution* Hmmm....

        1. Collectivist Jeffy doesn’t really care what the Constitution says.

      2. The constitution ought to buy me a pony too.

    2. And how much of the infrastructure bill was allocated to this? And how much of that infrastructure is locally controlled?

    3. "You guys are stuck in a mindset..."

      You're a steaming pile of lefty shit whose IQ wouldn't warm a beer.

    4. But... But... BUTTHEADS --- Your State's traffics jams, city water blah, blah blah HAS ABSOLUTELY **NOTHING**** to do with the "Union" of States **National** governing body....

      I get so sick of the lefty commie B.S. pretending like a families shared rug is a NATIONAL EMERGENCY in their pursuit to STEAL all the resources they can possibly gather...

      What about the roads in Canada - obviously we should STEAL all the resources from the USA we can to fund Canada's accidents... /s

    5. How much of this is going to go to public infrastructure like roads, bridges and water utilities?

  4. No no, Dr. de Rugy. I have been informed by our esteemed Ken Shultz that even though the compromise infrastructure bill has the support of several Republican Senators, that it is not "bipartisan". Oh no. A measure is only "bipartisan" if Mitch McConnell supports it. So if Democrats and McConnell support it but all other Republicans oppose it, then it's "bipartisan". But if Democrats and all Republicans *except* McConnell support it, then it's not "bipartisan". See how that works?

    In reality, what is "bipartisan" is whether Republicans, in the viewpoint of Ken Shultz and other Team Red shills, deserve to share the credit for it. If a measure is likely to help Republicans in the 2022 midterms, then it's "bipartisan" and they should take credit for it. If it is likely to hurt Republicans in the 2022 midterms, then it's not "bipartisan" and Democrats alone should suffer the blame for it regardless of how many Republicans actually do support it. And if those pesky dictionaries disagree, well, then that's probably because those dictionaries are biased and written by left-wingers who hate Republicans.

    1. RINO'S don't count as Republicans...
      Clarity is established by actually reading the Party Platform.

    2. Ironic thing is: Ken is one of the first people who would tell you all about how progressives try to change and control the definitions of words, yet he is blind to his doing the same thing.

      1. He has good intentions and they have bad intentions. That makes it different.

        1. You should really get help for your drinking problem.

  5. Well, damn, I used to have a lot of respect for de Rugy but this piece brings it all into question. To pretend this is something new? It's been obvious since the days of Rockefeller that Republicans just as well as Democrats are proponents of Big Government. Goldwater's shellacking was a wake-up call to the GOP that nobody was in favor of a smaller government and they never made that mistake again. You can *talk* about excessive government all you like, like Reagan, but don't you dare lift a finger to actually do anything about it.

  6. When you say the deal is "bipartisan", what do you mean exactly?

    Biden broke off negotiations with the Republican leadership because they wouldn't give him anything. Biden picked a select committee of Republicans--none of them including the Senate leadership as far as I can tell--and he negotiated this infrastructure bill with five of them. Since then, at least one of the five has announced that he won't vote for the infrastructure deal if Biden makes it contingent on a separate $3 trillion budget reconciliation bill, and it remains unclear whether any of the other four Republicans who negotiated this infrastructure bill will vote for it under those circumstances either.

    So, what do you mean when you say the deal is "bipartisan"?

    If no Republicans vote for it, will it still be bipartisan? After all, because this deal, along with any other spending the Democrats want, can be passed through budget reconciliation---without any Republican support whatsoever--it seems that the only reason Biden and the Democratic leadership want to win a few Republican votes for the infrastructure deal is so that when the Democrats face the voters in then 2022 midterms, they can hide behind the fig leaf of "bipartisanship".

    We really shouldn't be carrying their water for them--to help them dodge accountability for their outrageous spending--by echoing their baloney tu quoque marketing, and whether you realize it or not, characterizing a deal as bipartisan--with only a few Republicans negotiated it and all of them might vote against it--is helping the Democrats dodge accountability at the polls for their spending.

    Can you provide a list of Republican senators who have confirmed they will vote for the infrastructure deal--after Biden's announcement that he will only consider signing the infrastructure deal once his $3 trillion budget reconciliation bill gets to his desk? Because I can provide a short list of Republican Senators who have said they won't vote for it if it's in addition to--rather than instead of--Biden's $3 trillion budget reconciliation bill. But I can't find any Republicans who have publicly stated that they will vote for the infrastructure deal under those conditions.

    Not one.

    And I've seen McConnell express doubt that it will gain any Republican support in an interview with my own lying eyes.

    1. Aaaaand right on cue. The deal isn't "bipartisan" because Ken Shultz doesn't want Republicans to suffer the consequences of their own choices.

      "Some Republicans are supporting a terrible bill along with Democrats, and that gives the media a license to call the support 'bipartisan'. We can't have that! We must redefine the word 'bipartisan' in order to elide Republican culpability out of the conversation!"

    2. We really shouldn’t be carrying their water for them–to help them dodge accountability for their outrageous spending

      But we really should be carrying water for Team Red to help them dodge accountability for THEIR support for outrageous spending, by torturing the English language in order to conform to your preferences. Right Ken?

    3. I don't read chemjeff's silly posts, but if I had bet $20 that chemjeff's reply wouldn't list a single Republican who said he would vote for the infrastructure bill--after Biden made its passage contingent on the $3 trillion reconciliation bill--would I have been $20 richer?

      If so, you should probably mute him. He doesn't care about the facts, isn't trying to persuade you of anything using reason or logic, doesn't want to learn anything, and doesn't care whether he's wrong or right. Reading his comments is optional with the mute button, and if you read them, the joke is on you.

      1. Well, not only would you be up a Jackson, but you're missing all the WHINING jeff's doing about how it's really bipartisan, really
        REALLY, 'cause jeff says so!

        1. He really does cry a lot on top of being dishonest.

      2. You should read chemjeff’s comments because they often point out flaws and partisanship in your thinking, which you self-assess as being flawlessly factual and logical.

        1. If you find flaws in Ken's thinking then you're a leftist who hates American and voted for Biden. Why would he care what someone like that has to say?

        2. Chemjeff is a blithering idiot whose next cogent thought would be his first.

          1. Disagree. I disagree with him on a few things, but he consistently brings up interesting points, and skewers right-wing partisanship that is rife in this comments section.

            1. and skewers right-wing partisanship that is rife in this comments section

              That's why so many comments are about him, not what he said. When you can't respond to someone's ideas (as in you've been skewered) then attack them personally.

              1. See guys, all one of them are in agreement with each other.

                It's, like, science or something!

                1. What did I agree with?

                2. There facts and then there is the truth.

            2. This says more about you and your simplistic comments and critical thinking skills

    4. I don’t think it’s useful to look only at this set of bills in isolation. Consider the spending passed with massive Republican support last year; I don’t see much Ron Paul type principles there. You may be right now they are more resistant to further spending. Some of that might be grounded in a kind of principle but I’m sure as much if not more is pure partisanship and the need not to be seen supporting any Dem spending. I think when you take longer historical view her point is sound that big spending is a bipartisan affair.

      1. The Republicans signed onto the $3 trillion coronavirus spending in the spring of 2020, when the economy was imploding, but the Democrats in the House passed a $3.5 trillion stimulus package--and the Republicans ultimately countered by offering them nothing.

        McConnell was in favor of a skinny stimulus package of around $500 billion right before the election, but most of the Senate Republicans refused to support any further stimulus spending at all. Here's an article after the presidential election about how McConnell is open to another skinny stimulus package during the lame duck session, but the point is that the Senate Republicans refused to sign onto a another stimulus bill--right up until a a few days before the election.

        None of us will probably live to see the Senate refuse to pass a stimulus bill on principle in the weeks and days before a national election ever again. The Senate Republicans deserve a tremendous amount of credit for that. The pressure to buy themselves their seats with spending was intense. Pelosi's House had already passed a stimulus bill to spend $3.5 trillion in July of 2020, and the Republicans killed it on principle. The Senate Republicans deserve credit for that.

        As we stand now, the Democrats are arguing among themselves about whether to spend $3 trillion or $6 trillion on Green New Deal programs, and they're openly admitting they'll need to pass it through budget reconciliation because not a single Republican is expected to vote for it. Faulting the Republicans for being insufficiently conservative, fiscally, at this point is ridiculous.

        The only reason we didn't spend an additional $3.5 trillion in stimulus in 2020 is because the Republicans refused to support it, and whether we get Biden's $3 trillion in additional spending on Green New Deal and social spending or AOC's $6 trillion on Green New Deal and social spending, that spending will be approved through budget reconciliation--without any Republicans support whatsoever--because the Republicans oppose it.

        1. "Here’s an article after the presidential election about how McConnell is open to another skinny stimulus package during the lame duck session, but the point is that the Senate Republicans refused to sign onto a another stimulus bill–right up until a a few days before the election."

          ----Ken Shultz

          That didn't come out right.

          They didn't refuse to sign onto another stimulus bill--right up until a few days before the election. Rather, right up through the election, they refused to sing onto another stimulus bill. McConnell was offering to try to negotiate another one after the election because the Senate Republicans refused to sign one before the election--and they haven't changed since. The reason Biden broke off negotiations with the Republican leadership in the Senate on the current $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill is because they wouldn't give Biden any support.

          Biden negotiated the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill with five Senators who aren't in the leadership, and their support for the bill seems to have dried up the moment Biden made it clear that the infrastructure bill was in addition to the reconciliation bill rather than instead of it.

    5. As usual, Ken is right.

      This wasn’t bipartisan, when no one consequential on Team R supports it. Just a few RINOs.

  7. Duh. The goal of big government is bigger government.

    Among my many fantasies, I dream of a hard limit on government growth. A few ideas:

    Limit the number of new laws each year, perhaps to 10. And require that passing a new law is contingent on striking down an old law.

    Likewise, limit the number of new programs, also contingent on eliminating old ones.

    Finally, set the total federal budget to either a fixed number (maybe adjusted for inflation), or a percent of GDP. How about 10%?

  8. Yes, negotiating $6T down to $700B while trying to preserve the fillibuster, only to have Biden demand that everything they negotiated away be passed anyway - makes this all the Rs fault.

    As opposed to the Woketarian idiots who supported the Ds last fall. That was the time to stop this. Now GFY. Its your fault.

    1. "Sure, while the Ds/left may be totalitarian and following the model laid out by Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot, Maduro, BUT LOOK OVER HERE AT THE ICKY REPUBLICANS/CONSERVATIVES!"

  9. Sure, "both sides" love big government, that's been proven repeatedly.

    But last time I checked, 12 trillion was a lot more than 6 trillion.
    And 18 trillion is even more than 12 trillion.

  10. Nancy Pelosi just named Liz Cheney to her January 6 committee.

    In the minds of Reason staff, does that make Pelosi's January 6 committee bipartisan?

    Seven Democrats + Liz Cheney = bipartisan?!

    1. Fits the dictionary definition of bipartisan, yes. Sorry that human language often has fuzzy semantics; that must be hard to deal with.

      1. How is being autistic and making nuance going for you in life?

        1. She’s just a squawking bird, so just fine.



      1. Fucking leftie fatass sock puppets can't figure out which account to use.

      2. It would be one thing if the Republicans had voted for this infrastructure bill, but it isn't clear that any of them will vote for it.

        I'm not saying a majority didn't vote for it. I'm not saying a minority didn't vote for it. I'm saying that no Republicans have voted for this bill.

        If its passed by the Democrats through budget reconciliation--without a single Republican vote--will they still call it "bipartisan"?

        It's not that the Democrats voted for this bill first. It's that the Republicans haven't voted for it all--at least not yet. And their leadership, in the Senate, is going on TV telling people he's not sure it will get any Republican votes. For goodness' sake, what's bipartisan about this bill at this point?

  12. The headline is bogus.

    The $1.2 trillion in the compromise bill is only about half of the $2.3 trillion in Biden's request. You can argue that the compromise bill is evidence that Republicans "love big government", but it's also clear evidence that they absolutely don't love big government "as much as" Democrats.

    Saving the taxpayers $1.1 trillion can also be seen as loving smaller government.

    1. Just for the record, the $1.2 trillion repurposes unspent funds from previous "stimulus" bills--so it only represents a little more than $500 billion in new spending. And I don't believe there are any taxes either.

      When the five Republicans were negotiating this, they thought it was the alternative to Biden's $3 trillion reconciliation bill. In a choice between the two, no doubt, the Republican bill is better. Since it turns out this is in addition to--rather than instead of--the $3 trillion in reconciliation, my bet is that there are fewer Republicans that vote for this infrastructure bill than there were Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump over January 6.

  13. The House just passed a $715 billion infrastructure bill--and it probably demonstrated the current "bipartisan" support for infrastructure spending against the backdrop of Biden and the Democrats' reconciliation bill.

    Here's the final vote tally

    Yeas: 219 Democrats and 2 (two) Republicans.

    Nays: 201 Republicans.

    Not Voting: 8 (eight) Republicans.

    There's the extent of your "bipartisan" support for infrastructure right now. Anyone who thinks two Republicans voting for it makes it bipartisan--when 201 Republicans voted against it--is insane.

    1. Had one more GOP member voted for it, Dee would hav called (cawed?) it tripartisan.

    2. Anyone who cares about promoting Republicans as our saviors and Democrats as the most horrible people so much that they spend hours a day arguing for their own special definition of bipartisan on an obscure web forum is insane.

      A sane person would not support either major party. A sane person would spend more time doing useful things with their time or pursuing a hobby.

  14. Republicans love big government as much as democrats, so much that they all joined them in supporting forever lockdowns, closing down the economy and schools indefinitely, and placing racial quotas on pandemic aid. Wait what's that? That never happened?
    You don't say.

    Please, tell me more on how you LP elections without republican support. Does Amash have a secret plan to woo liberals who detest their core ideals?

    Reason is no different than a guy in a corner who reads from his manifesto. "Listen to ALL the great ideas I have!" Most people ignore them, but when a few people want to engage them, he yells at them for impurity. "See, because you deviated from my position on one or two issues, you're no better than the side that I criticize. Pox on both houses, forevah"

    Since republicans do not live in a fantasy world that can exist without police and borders, I can only conclude that they are at minimum the least worst choice. Immigrants won't come if you cut spending and take away free stuff, because there can never be an economy where employers will offer jobs to EVERY foreign applicant that comes looking for work.

    To be perfect and principled in your own terms all the time is intellectual cowardice. All the great leaders formed coalition with imperfect allies, and some death with outright fascists. If you have a goal, you have to work with those who share it to advance it. You either to put temporarily put aside differences or compromise it on them for the sake of the agenda.

    1. The Republicans are by no means perfect. In fact they have serious flaws, but that doesn't mean they aren't vastly superior to Biden and the Democrats.

      1. Unfortunately, any claims to having the high ground are spoiled by their slavering sellout to a childish, amoral grifter who was willing to undermine democracy just because he lost an election.

      2. Progressives may be “America’s most horrible people” but Trump is America’s most horrible person.

      3. Vastly superior.

        I keep repeating that trying to understand. Because you advocate for the vastly superior republicans you are vastly superior as an advocate on the right side of history and humanity.

        The others are vastly inferior.

  15. Pravda gets the good potatoes

  16. Congress is addicted to Other People's Money and they need a 12-step program stat!

  17. As I recall from my AP Government class roughly 30 years ago, a vote/bill was considered "bi-partisan" if it received support from a majority of both parties and a bill was considered passing/failing on a "party-line" vote if 90%+ of one party voted for it and 90%+ of the other party voted against it.

    All Democrat members of the House of Representatives voting in favor of the bill and all but two Republican members (with 8 NV) of the House of Representatives voting against it would be considered a party-line.

    In the Senate's version, if the bill only pulls 5 Republicans in favor with 45 voting against it, that would also be a party-line vote and not "bi-partisan".

    A bill that only garners the support less than 1% of members of one party in one chamber and appears to have the support of 10% of one party in the other chamber is not bi-partisan and is/was passed along party lines.

    Just like Trent Dilfer could be considered a "Pro Bowl Quarterback" because he was selected to the NFC's 1997 Pro Bowl team (as the third or fourth QB and only made the team due to injuries of the QBs ahead of him on the list), he isn't really a "Pro Bowl Quarterback".

    1. They want us to blame both sides equally because they're afraid the voters will elect Republicans in 2022--to punish the Democrats for all this outrageous spending--and they're afraid they'll vote for Trump against Biden or Harris come 2024.

  18. Alternate headline: REEEEEEEEE

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  20. ADME Prediction
    The characterization of Absorption, Distribution, Metabolism,

  21. You mean the world's largest incarcerated population, the invasion of Iraq, two economic collapses, the unitary executive, enforced theocracy, ostentatious lawlessness, and torture weren't small-government propositions after all?

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