As President Joe Biden unveiled a sweeping $2 trillion infrastructure proposal, Republican lawmakers detailed their party’s own carefully thought-out counterplan, which consists of one word: No.
On Thursday, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said of Biden’s infrastructure plan: “I’m going to fight them every step of the way, because I think this is the wrong prescription for America.”
McConnell neglected to detail the right prescription for America, presumably because it’s buried on his desk beneath the Republican Party’s expansive health care plan, immigration plan, gun violence plan and a stack of 13,543 handwritten constituent letters expressing deep concern about liberals coming to take their guns and Dr. Seuss books.
This is what we’ve come to expect. Even under the former president, Republicans chose to stoke outrage and crank out a stream of Twitter and Facebook memes that “own the libs” rather than offer up actual policy.
In the four years before Biden took office, every week was Infrastructure Week, a term that never meant anything, and we were always exactly two weeks from seeing an amazing GOP health care plan that would erase the tyranny of Obamacare. We remain, I assume, exactly two weeks away from seeing that plan.
In the right-wing world, ideas, like facts, have become irrelevant. What matters is anger and the steady white-noise (pun intended) of huffy politicians and pundits delineating the reasons their supporters/fan base should feel deeply aggrieved.
Could they instead have focused on a relief plan that is, according to a mid-March Gallup poll, supported by 63% of Americans? Sure. But if Republicans don’t scare their constituents enough to keep them up at night, those constituents might get enough rest to realize they’re being played.
Since moving from the relief bill to an infrastructure plan, Republicans maintained their serious style of governance by repeatedly discussing video of Biden tripping three times going up the steps to Air Force One, still going on about Dr. Seuss and equating the idea of people showing proof of COVID-19 vaccinations to Nazism.
“Proposals like these smack of 1940s Nazi Germany,” Republican Rep. Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina told Fox News. “We must make every effort to keep America from becoming a ‘show your papers society.’ The Constitution and our founding principles decry this type of totalitarianism.”
OK. So Republicans like Cawthorn want the former president to get full credit for the vaccines because they’re amazing and miraculous. But nobody should have to show that they’ve been vaccinated because that’s totalitarianism.
All of this is, in a word, stupid. In fact, I’ll go ahead and make my assessment two words longer than the GOP health care plan currently is by calling it “painfully stupid.”
That’s by design. The present-day Republican Party, in lieu of policy, is dishing out nonsense. And regardless of the party’s fervent, always-lathered-up base, a wide swath of Americans have taken notice.
A recent Morning Consult/Politico poll of registered voters found that Democrats are trusted over Republicans on every major policy issue. On health care, Democrats are favored 52 percent to 30 percent over Republicans. On immigration, Democrats are favored 45 percent to 38 percent over Republicans. They’re favored on jobs, the economy, the environment, education, coronavirus, guns and even energy and national security.
Biden and Democrats in Congress will fight for their infrastructure plan. And if Republicans decide to just mutter varying versions of the word “NO!” while searching for the next meaningless culture war battle to lose, it’s likely most Americans will coalesce behind the Biden plan.
Maybe that’s what Republicans want. At least it gives them something to bellow about on Fox News.
Rex Huppke is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune and a noted hypocrisy enthusiast. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @RexHuppke.)