Jim Boswell Blog | Change the Dialogue on Infrastructure | Talkmarkets
Executive Director, Quanta Analytics

I have nearly fifty years of professional experience in the development of management information and analytical business decision support systems. Broadly disciplined with exceptional experience. Education includes an MBA from the Wharton School-University of Pennsylvania, an MPA in public ... more

Change the Dialogue on Infrastructure

Date: Wednesday, April 7, 2021 7:14 AM EDT

I see that Senator Manchin has thrown a wrench into the "Infrastructure" discussion.  No big surprise there.  Personally, i think it offers Biden an opportunity to show how Democrats can work together and change the dialogue for the betterment of all.  And here is how.

Make the infrastructure part of a larger "Budget" issue.  It does not take a rocket science to know that by the time you can get an infrastructure bill passed we will be back closer to full employment.  That means we should be back to a somewhat more normal federal budget process.  

So here is what you do, based upon my early less than five minute search to find the Congressional Budget Office figures for the federal budget for the last fifty-years.  

First of all, recognize than we have had only 4-years (1998-2001) during the 50 where the Government ran a "surplus" budget.  In fact, we have only had another ten years where the deficit was less than 2%.  So that means only 28% of the time in the last fifty-years (during both democrat and republican administrations) have we run budgets with less than a 2% deficit.

Tell people as important as infrastructure is, you are going to do it while at the same time moving us towards a more balanced budget.  You should be able to do this with both increased taxes and strategic cuts in expenditures.  In 2015 and 2016 (Obama's last two-years), the budget deficit was -2.4% and -2.9% respectively.  During Trump's reign the federal budget worsened every year to -4.6% in 2019.

Using those last five-years (2015-2016) as a basis from which to start, knowing the economic times are going to get better, tell people you are going to submit a "real" budget the first year that includes infrastructure that reduces our levels of deficit spending to -2.0%.  

Do this without any smoke and mirrors.  Bold action like infrastructure can be teamed with bold action on the budget.  That kills two birds with one stone and would really make Biden look like he knows what he is doing.  Let the left scream bloody murder, but in the long run it will be better for everyone.  The republicans would have absolutely no place to go with this type of argument.  You get infrastructure while reducing the deficit from the Trump years.

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