Friday, November 12, 2021

Build Back Better, Baby!

Image by Paul Brennan from Pixabay 

This is: A weekly column consisting of letters to my perspicacious progeny. I write letters to my grandkids — the Stickies — eventual selves to advise them and haunt them after they've become grups and/or I'm deleted.   

Warning: This column is rated SSC — Sexy Seasoned Citizens — Perusal by kids, callowyutes, or grups may result in an intersectional meltdown. Intended for H. sapiens who are — in the words of the late, great bon vivant, polymath, and pic-a-nic basket expert, Professor Y. Bear — "Smarter than the av-er-age bear." 

Erratically Appearing Hallucinatory Guest Star: Dana — A Gentlereader  

“A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you're talking real money."
                                                               -William McKinley Dirkson

Dear (eventual) Grandstickies and Great-Grand Stickies (and Gentlereaders),

It's official. We're about to begin building back better, baby. 

Hardly able to contain my excitement, I've done a bit of research to ascertain exactly what's in the Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation in America Act, a.k.a. the INVEST in America Act, a.k.a. the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill — and how much it's going to cost.  

Enough googlin' to give me a headache and induce significant eye strain revealed that recruiting a handful of members from the other team now makes a bill a bipartisan effort and the total cost is $1,200,000,000,000... or $1,000,000,000,000, depending on which news outlet you follow. 

{You're so picky, what difference does a mere 200 billion bucks make?}  

I know, I know, I'm sorry. I'm detail-oriented by nature, and I know that most of America's news and information outlets are demonstrably objective and fact-obsessed by definition. But there are some bad actors out there operating within/promoting an ideological narrative. 

And since the actual cost is only $550,000,000,000...

{Wait, wait, wait. Where did you come up with that number, and those names now that I think of it? This bill isn't called the Build Back Better Act?}

Nope, that's the other one. 

{The other one?}

Yeah, the one that has a little something for almost everyone, Uncle Joe's way of saying Merry Christmas happy holidays America. The one that was supposed to cost $3,500,000,000,000 but has been scaled back to $1,750,000,000,000 (more or less, the log rolling continues apace.) 

{Log rolling?}

Follow the link for the etymology but suffice it to say that, you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours, tells you almost everything you need to know. 


Yeah, spending $1,750,000,000,000 over 4 or 5 years is the same as spending $3,500,000,000,000 over 10 years, but that doesn't mean they'll get away with it that's what will happen since what will actually be in that bill is in flux.

{Hmmm... Wait, slow down, Sparky, did you say that the, uh, Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, the one that's actually been passed, is only going to cost 550 billion? Why is everyone saying it costs a trillion, or 1.2 trillion, or...}

Well, those who support it think bigger sounds better. Those who opposed it think bigger makes it sound worse. Bottom line, the 550 billion I mentioned is new spending. The Fedrl Gummit already has $650,000,000,000 in infrastructure spending scheduled.   

{Wow, that's a bunch of billions, another $550 billion should really have an impact...of course, people will be bitchin' about all the construction delays.}

Maybe, maybe not. See, there's infrastructure, and then there's infrastructure. 

While the 2,700-page bill includes $110 billion in new spending for roads and bridges, the other $340 billion includes spending for all sorts of things that may or may not be considered infrastructure, depending on your perspective.

For example, $66,000,000,000 for railroad maintenance and modernization, most of which will go to Amtrak, Uncle Sam's railroad. Created in 1971, it's been losing money for 50 years. Without subsidies, it would've ceased to exist decades ago.

Solution? Expansion. Expand service to more cities, so more of us, can take a train rather than drive, fly, or take a bus. Picture this:

You roll out of bed, kiss your snificant other goodbye, and carry your suitcase out to your gummit subsidized Tesla ($7,500 subsidy). You wave to the kids on the corner waiting for their new electric school bus ($7,500,000,000). 

On the way to the train station, you stop at one of the new gummit built charging stations ($7,500,000,000) to top off your batteries and pick up a complicated coffee concoction from the Starbucks next door.  

Before proceeding, you access your trusty iPhone and ask Siri to get to you the train station while avoiding any highways that no longer exist due to racial injustice remediation ($1,000,000,000).

{You made that last one up, stirring the pot again?}  

Nuh-uh. Follow the link, Uncle Joe wanted to spend lots more but only $1 billion made it into the bill.

I adopt my portentous newsreader voice:

In other news, The Fedrl Gummit continues to operate under a "continuing resolution" that suspends the debt limit and pays the bills only till December third unless a budget is passed, or more likely, yet another continuing resolution.

Poppa loves you,
Have an OK day

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