Distractions Keep Congress From Addressing Infrastructure


Congress gummed up the works by trying to repeal Obamacare and replace it with another federal health-insurance scheme in one fell swoop. But we’re simply talking about different ways to make sure health insurance companies receive billions of dollars, not necessarily achieving actual health care in the strict sense. Real health care is more personal—good nutrition, detoxification and various alternative-preventative measures, which often aren’t covered by any insurance plan.

But I digress because, meanwhile, too many of the nation’s bridges, highways, water and sewer systems, ports and other public works and thoroughfares are crumbling and it’s time to act.

Reps. Lou Barletta (R-Pa.) and James Inhofe (R-Okla.) would like to avoid the current obsession with tax reform, since that could similarly gum up the works regarding rebuilding our infrastructure.

“I would love for us to move on to infrastructure,” Barletta said. “I think it could be an area where it’d be pretty difficult for Democrats not to work together with us. I think that’s exactly what we need right now.”

“I have a preference for infrastructure,” agreed Inhofe. “It’s more bipartisan, and it’s something that the public wants more.”

Yet, if the views of senators such as John Thune (R-S.D.) and Deb Fisher (R-Neb.) have any merit—with both lawmakers saying that tax reform should be dealt with up front—then let’s look at tariffs as a major part of any tax-reform plan.

As President Trump reportedly tries to overhaul the noxious North American Free Trade Agreement while calling for a “Buy American” economic ethos—in tandem with his stated intent to back away from multilateral trade deals like the Trans Pacific Partnership and instead rely on bilateral agreements—tariffs indeed could be prioritized.

Because a lot of the heavy truck and ship traffic that exerts tremendous stress on our highways, roads, bridges and ports obviously involves imported goods, then, logically, an import tax of sufficient size should be applied to those goods to offset that wear-and-tear. In other words, since most of the heaviest traffic utilizing US infrastructure consists of trade, then a trade tax is a no-brainer.

And because tariffs, when properly applied, tend to protect domestic industry, a larger industrial foundation would form. That, in turn, comprises the tax base of the states, counties and towns, which undergirds the funding of local roads, streets, bridges, sidewalks, parks, water systems, schools, senior care, local public transit (which reduces highway stress and maintenance costs) etc. Whenever a community has a strong, diversified tax base, the property taxes and other taxes on individual homeowners tend to be far less burdensome.

Furthermore, when it comes to funding, Congress could hardly be more myopic. Do none of these Congress members look to history and consider the works of Congressmen Wright Patman, Jerry Voorhis and Louis McFadden?

These late Congressmen, in their heyday, were well aware of the pitfalls and perils of having the privately owned and controlled Federal Reserve central bank create the nation’s money supply, largely on its own terms. They and others, including inventors and industrialists like Thomas Edison and Henry Ford, knew that Congress could sack the Fed and resort to constitutionally creating the nation’s own money—directly and interest-free.

That would mean that when Congress lays out the nation’s needs, such as for infrastructure, (major engineering firms believe America needs some $3 trillion in total infrastructure repairs and upgrades) Congress would compile a list of prioritized public works projects and create the new money it needs to finance a given project—instead of transferring money from one entity to another via taxation or from borrowing. The new money would be added to the public weal and not counted as debt to be returned to the banking system with interest attached.

Referring to financing Muscle Shoals, a public works project consisting of a water-driven electrical plant, Edison said the following in 1921:

“If the nation can issue a dollar bond it can issue a dollar bill. The element that makes the bond good makes the bill good also. The difference between the bond and the bill is that the bond lets the money broker collect twice the amount of the bond [and even more interest]. Whereas the currency, the honest sort provided by the Constitution, pays nobody but those who contribute in some useful way. It is absurd to say our country can issue bonds and cannot issue currency. Both are promises to pay, but one fattens the usurer and the other helps the people.”

So, whenever Americans hear news reports saying things like, “The timing and fate of President Trump’s infrastructure plan may depend on whether the GOP enacts major tax reform — a task that could prove challenging amid the struggle to pass a healthcare bill,” as The Hill newspaper remarked, they must keep in mind the broader themes that aren’t part of the big media’s daily discourse and have been largely blotted out from the national memory.

Mark Anderson is a veteran journalist who divides his time between Texas and Michigan. Email him at truthhound2@yahoo.com.

From The Progressive Populist, September 1, 2017


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