Bernie Sanders’ 2020 presidential campaign terrified me. More than any other candidate in the Democratic primary, I worried for the future of the United States under his leadership.
However, I have to give the Vermont senator credit where it is due. However misguided he may usually be, he is a man of principle, and he is not afraid to call out Democratic actions he feels would be destructive to the American people.
Take President Joe Biden’s new favorite toy — his trillion-dollar infrastructure bill — as an example. Biden is desperate for the bill to be a bipartisan effort and has expended incalculable amounts of energy trying to raise support from Republicans and West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, a moderate Democrat.
But in a statement released Sunday, Sanders, who is technically an independent but caucuses and frequently votes with the Democrats, threw a wrench into Biden’s plans.
According to Politico, Sanders said he would not support the infrastructure bill if it were to raise money through new taxes on electric vehicles or gas, both of which are often-cited methods of raising the necessary revenue.
The current proposal, which has the support of at least 11 Republicans and 10 Democrats, would cost $973 billion over five years or $1.2 trillion over eight years. Either plan would include $579 million in new spending. Other spending would come from remaining federal COVID relief funds, surcharges on electric vehicles or state and local COVID relief funds.
“If it is roads and bridges, yeah, of course we need to do that and I support that,” Sanders told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
“If it is regressive taxation — you know, raising the gas tax or a fee on electric vehicles, or the privatization of infrastructure, no I wouldn’t support it, but we don’t have the details right now,” he continued.
Sanders elaborated that while he supported the spending itself, he had serious concerns about the procurement of the necessary revenue.
“What is in the bipartisan bill in terms of spending is, from what I can see, mostly good,” he said.
“One of the concerns that I do have about the bipartisan bill is how they are going to pay for their proposals, and they’re not clear yet. I don’t know that they even know yet, but some of the speculation is raising a gas tax, which I don’t support, a fee on electric vehicles, privatization of infrastructure, those are proposals that I would not support.”
Sanders’ concerns could also have a major impact on a potential Democratic plan to spend $6 trillion on infrastructure through the reconciliation process, Politico reported. Senate Democrats would need every vote they could get, and losing Sanders would be a decisive blow.
However, not every aspect of Sanders’ potential opposition to the Biden plan is conservative-friendly. He wants the infrastructure bill to address a number of key progressive policy priorities.
“It is time we paid attention to the needs of working people,” Sanders said in his statement.
“And when we do that, when we deal with climate, when we deal with infrastructure, when we deal with home health care, when we deal with child care, we can create millions of good-paying [jobs], that is what the American people want. That’s what we’ve got to do.”
All in all, it seems Biden’s plan for national unity is dying by a thousand cuts. The country is clearly not united, and lawmakers should step up and demand that we begin taking fiscal responsibility into account. The costs of these bills have been making me nauseous.
But the chance of that happening is negligible. The federal government seems intent on spending us into oblivion.
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