Shiny new infrastructure presents delivered by President Biden Claus in time for holiday season is in reality a sack of coal dumped on the heads of the people.
Last month, President Biden signed a so-called “bipartisan” infrastructure bill into law. Despite the mainstream media fanfare, the bill is neither particularly bipartisan, nor does it deal exclusively with infrastructure.
Indeed, the misleadingly titled Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is packed with a plethora of partisan surprises — some extreme, and some just plain bizarre. In fairness to the president’s attempt at bipartisanship, however, it must be admitted that there are some provisions in the law that, while not wholly partisan, are certainly wholly wasteful — and utterly stupid.
Below are seven examples, ranging from the silly to the sinister.
1. Green New Dealings
Section 40541 provides “grants for energy efficiency improvements and renewable energy improvements at public school facilities,” while Title XI — “Clean School Buses and Ferries” — establishes a “clean school bus program and an Electric or low-emitting ferry pilot program.” The Federal Aid and Highways section of the bill also includes an entire subsection dedicated to “Climate Change,” and mandates things like the reduction of truck emissions at ports and the implementation of a “carbon reduction program.”
2. Grants to Study ‘Tree Canopy’ Equity
Yup, you read that correctly. Section 11406, the “Healthy Streets Program,” includes a provision providing grants to entities conducting “an equity assessment by mapping tree canopy gaps” in low-income and disadvantaged communities.
3. Ideologically Motivated, Race-Based Identity Politics
Of course, no Democratic president these days is going to sign any law that doesn’t include an unhealthy dose of identity politics, and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is no exception. The monstrosity of new rules, regulations, and spending contains an entire section dedicated to minority business development. This includes the establishment of a “Minority Business Development Agency Business Center Program”; a separate, similar program for rural minority businesses; grants to nonprofits that support minority businesses; and the creation of a Minority Business Enterprises Advisory Council. While there is nothing wrong in and of itself with supporting minority businesses, having the federal government give extra support only to one class of business owners based solely on their race is at best rooted in the sort of radical, anti-American ideology that promotes critical race theory and at worse is discriminatory and arguably a civil rights violation.
4. Destroying Roads and Bridges, Not Building Them
The new law also establishes the “Reconnecting Communities Pilot Program,” which provides funding to remove highways or “any other transportation facility that creates a barrier to community connectivity.” The program is based on the idea that much of the urban development done in the mid-20th century in cities like New York and Los Angeles was performed with racist motives in mind, or at the very least had racially discriminatory effects on communities of color. The problem with this ideological interpretation of history is just that — it’s an interpretation. Even the poster boy for supposedly racist urban planning, New York’s Robert Moses, has experienced a reputational rehabilitation in recent years. Tearing down highways and bridges based on subjective, ideologically influenced historical opinions at a time when the economy is already facing supply chain issues is extreme — and extremely foolish.
5. New Travel Tax Pilot Program
Section 13002 of the new law provides for the establishment of a pilot program to charge per-mile user fees for passenger cars and commercial trucks. This is a regressive, economy-crushing measure that will unfairly penalize working-class and poorer Americans.
6. Anti-Drunk Driving Technology
Included in the bill is a provision mandating the development of new anti-drunk driving technology in cars that could be standardized and mandated for all new vehicles in the next few years. While we can all agree that drunk driving is bad, we can also probably all agree that mandating investment in new technology to turn every new car into a mechanical snitch is not worth the added cost to manufacturers, consumers, or taxpayers.
7. A Federal Weed Stash House
Section 25026 of the bill, titled “Report on Marijuana Research,” mandates a report detailing methods and recommendations for “establishing a national clearinghouse to collect and distribute samples and strains of marijuana for scientific research.” This is ostensibly to aid in research into the effects of driving while under the influence of marijuana, but given that a Google search of “effects of driving, marijuana” retrieves over 33 million results in roughly half a second, one wonders if and why such research is truly necessary.
These seven absurd provisions included in the inaccurately named Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act make one thing clear. What promised to be a package of shiny new infrastructure presents delivered by President Biden Claus just in time for the holiday season is in reality a giant sack of coal dumped straight on the heads of the American people.