Well, that was certainly interesting. After months of wondering whether Joe Mansion of West Virginia had a soul and the Inscrutable Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona was just a fashion addict and actually on anyone’s team but her own, Congress has passed and sent to President Biden the biggest, by far the biggest, infrastructure repair bill in many, many years. More than a trillion dollars worth of rebuilding will start to unfold the instant President Biden signs the bill into law. Memories of former President Trump’s “infrastructure week” and all the bullshit that entailed can now evaporate. Things are about to happen that will touch most of the lives in America.
This is good for America, good for its people and good for Joe Biden and the Democrats, too.
We simply have to give up on the idea that Washington is so messy that nothing can ever happen. Joe Biden has been around a way long time and he knows how to push things toward resolution, although it might not happen as quickly or as quietly as people would prefer. Or as neatly. He had been described as being in trouble so many times in the past few months it’s a surprise he didn’t end up in some kind of reform school for geezers. Now he has won the day on this vast bill, with lots of help from Nancy Pelosi, the speaker to define all speakers from here on out, and a smattering of Republicans who, I suspect, will be able to carry lots of bridge projects and repair things to their next campaign appearances.
Now it will be time for media of all sorts to try to find a way to diminish this significant accomplishment, predict the Democrats will lose House control in 2022 and crash in flames in a field somewhere. The more hyperbolic the description, the better media likes it. Fox News will burst an artery over this, you can be certain. All those entities that are more Trumpy than Truthy will be shaking their fists and suggesting we are headed for Communism. Or worse! Trump will continue to fester at Marred-ah-logo down in Florida and that ambitious pack of wanna bees in the GOP will begin to roll out their rhetoric. They won’t be able to find enough bad things to say about the process and the people involved.
I covered legislatures in Pennsylvania for years and I knew every single day that what was happening was not very pretty, the embodiment of big power playing out all over the place and so full of self interest you would think those people would carry mirrors around all day just to stare at themselves. But you know what happens in the end? What has to happen. Reform creeps on in its petty pace and those who would steal will stick their hands into every bucket they can find. Doesn’t matter. That is how democracy works in the United States. That is how it has always worked.
Stop bitching and start building.
You can follow all that negative poop if you want to, but I would rather know when the money is coming from Washington to start working on all the stuff that is virtually collapsing. Even here in Evanston, one of the most liberal places in America and a city that is always eager to expand whatever social safety net local governments can provide. Maybe the city will get the money it needs to buy the Union Pacific’s train stations along the Metra line. They are for sale, after all, and could come in handy for lots of local purposes that will enhance lives that are already pretty comfortable for most of us. Maybe the money will come in to repair the railroad underpasses, which are symphonies of rust and decline and a little troubling when one of those big Metra trains comes rumbling along. It would be nice to make them sparkle after years of neglect.
Lead water pipes, begone!
And that’s the least of it. I suspect before this is over, the bike lanes will have bike lanes, public buildings will look proud again and those areas of this town that need some attention, those potted streets, unpaved alleys and so on, will get some loving care. Fine. That is what government is for.
Perhaps the people who have their hands on the spigots that control all this money will find a way to send a little more of it to the people who have not much of anything. Our culture works in increments, not in vast leaps in most cases, and it is well past time that we start looking toward those at the bottom of the economy and finding out what we can do to help them rise.