Barney Frank: GOP Infrastructure Counteroffer Would ‘Make Deficit Worse’

Former Massachusetts Democrat congressman Barney Frank says Republicans’ counteroffer to President Joe Biden’s $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan would make the deficit worse.

”What the Republicans just proposed, they propose an addition of $700 billion, I think, in physical infrastructure. They don’t pay for it,” Frank said Thursday during an appearance on Newsmax TV’s ”Spicer & Co.””At this point — I know people on the conservative side don’t like raising the tax rate back up to 39.6 percent … but Biden’s proposal is deficit neutral in that it has tax increases. If you don’t like the tax increases, I understand why you don’t like the package. But Republican senators have proposed a $700 billion with zero offsetting revenue so if you (compare) the two packages, they make the deficit worse.”

Republicans in late April unveiled their counteroffer to Biden’s infrastructure proposal, presenting a $568 billion framework that includes $299 billion for roads and bridges, $61 billion for public transit systems and $20 billion for railroads, including Amtrak. It would also provide more than $61 billion to improve waterways, airports and ports and invest $65 billion to expand the nation’s broadband infrastructure. An additional $60 billion would go toward drinking water infrastructure, highway safety measures and water storage.

Republicans say Biden’s proposal includes too many provisions unrelated to traditional forms of infrastructure and that a corporate tax rate increase from 21 to 28 percent to pay for the package is not fiscally responsible.

Frank also said he supports Biden’s $6 trillion spending push since the president took office in January.

”I think it’s enough (spending),” Frank said of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, the American Jobs Plan and the $1.8 trillion American Families Plan. The rescue plan is the only one that has passed.

”What we are doing with much of this program is improving the economy. We all talk about productivity. This is one of the few concrete things we can do to improve productivity. We are talking about improving our roads, our bridges, our transit, our electric grid, all of the things that make our economy more productive. …

”If we were a private company, we wouldn’t be spending these things out of current revenue, we would be bonding them because they are long lasting, the highways, the bridges, the grid, as I said. So yes, I think we can easily afford it. People on the conservative side, some of them, have been predicting inflation, but Donald Trump’s appointees to the Federal Reserve have said, ‘No, we have this under control.’ If inflation should appear, they have the tools to deal with it. But [Federal Reserve Board Chair] Jay  Powell, a majority of the people on the Federal Reserve who are voting for interest rates to lower and who say there’s not a problem with inflation in the near term are Trump appointees.”

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