President Biden doesn’t need to reinvent the wheel on infrastructure: Sen. John Thune

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John Thune
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Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., is the Senate Republican Whip.
Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., is the Senate Republican Whip.

You are reading the Opposing View, one of two perspectives in Today's Debate.

For Our View, read Biden builds solid infrastructure proposal, but questions remain.

If President Joe Biden sincerely wants to address our country’s infrastructure needs, he doesn’t need to reinvent the wheel. Lawmakers historically work across the aisle to invest in infrastructure, and one doesn’t have to look far for recent examples.

Four months ago, a divided Congress passed comprehensive legislation investing in ports, harbors and waterways. Recent infrastructure packages have garnered widespread, bipartisan support because Republicans and Democrats alike understand that infrastructure is key to our economic prosperity. It enables South Dakota’s commodities to reach markets around the world and tourists to visit our majestic state.

So let me be clear: A bipartisan infrastructure bill is possible if Democrats are interested in working with Republicans on traditional infrastructure such as roads and bridges, and even modern infrastructure like broadband, if done correctly.

The proposal from the White House, however, misses the mark on our nation’s infrastructure needs and undermines the opportunity for bipartisan cooperation.

Their proposal would spend more taxpayer dollars subsidizing and promoting electric vehicles than on investments in roads, bridges, ports and waterways combined. Less than 6% of the $2.2 trillion plan would invest in roads and bridges, and the most expensive pieces of the proposal stretch the meaning of infrastructure far beyond how everyday Americans would ever define it.

Some items are worthy of bipartisan discussions. But it’s an abuse of the term and, frankly, insulting to the American people’s intelligence to describe billions of dollars for a “Civilian Climate Corps” and for schools to eliminate paper plates as “infrastructure.”

Critics argue that Republicans are nitpicking the meaning of infrastructure. Count me as someone who believes you should be straight with the American people if you’re asking for one of the largest tax hikes in generations to pay for one of the most expensive proposals in American history.

You don’t have to be an economist to understand the highest combined federal-state corporate tax rate in the developed world would crush job growth when it’s needed most.

Our country needs to get back to work. One way to do that is through a serious infrastructure proposal tailored to actual needs. If the White House will work with Republicans, together we can expand infrastructure and economic opportunity — instead of the federal government.

John Thune is a Republican senator from South Dakota and the Senate Republican Whip.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Biden doesn’t need to reinvent the wheel on infrastructure: John Thune