The Democrats’ coronavirus relief bill, which was about much more than relief from the economic impact of the virus, seemed to enjoy broad public support. The Dems hope that their next massive spending legislation, which it falsely advertises as an infrastructure bill, will be similarly popular with centrists and some on the center right.
That hope isn’t unrealistic on its face. According to the Washington Post, early polling showed some Republican approval of more big spending.
However, the Post also reports that this support seems to be fading:
[A]ny window for cooperation appears to have already closed for Republicans in Congress — and it may be closing for GOP voters, as well. Interviews with dozens of voters in three swing congressional districts across the country revealed evidence that attacks on the spending push are beginning to take hold, and congressional Republicans said they are well positioned to capitalize on voter doubts and win their way back to power in 2022.
“They feel like America is dramatically changing right before their eyes — I hear it everywhere I go,” said Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.), chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee, which has been helping to drive GOP messaging against the Democratic plans. “They hear about a $4 trillion dollar spending deal, and it’s not going to go toward helping them but go toward ideologically transforming America, and I think largely the American people are very anxious about it.”
The Post is nervous:
The drumbeat of GOP attacks — that Biden’s spending plans are too big, too unfocused, too ideological and too divisive — have been driven home by elected leaders and a conservative media infrastructure looking to find the next issue after Trump’s 2020 election loss and the loss of the Republican Senate majority.
Ahead of this month’s three-week recess, the National Republican Congressional Committee advised GOP lawmakers to describe the American Rescue Plan Act as a “socialist wish list” that will lead to “costly implications” for taxpayers.
It was only half a year ago that some congressional Democrats, having barely survived the election, were saying they didn’t ever again want to be vulnerable to plausible branding as socialist. How quickly they forgot.
Cost is a major concern with the “infrastructure” legislation. Team Biden tries to assuage that concern by claiming that the programs won’t be paid for by tax increases on the middle class. The Post finds skepticism regarding that claim.
And higher taxes aren’t the only concern. If anything, those on the center right seem more bothered by the realization that ideology — a desire to transform the country — drives the spending. They aren’t enthusiastic about so-called infrastructure legislation the real goal of which is to transform America. As one voter told the Post, it’s not only fear of higher taxes that is generating anxiety about the infrastructure bill, it’s the policy implications that the legislation could carry.
As more and more people understand, or at least sense, what Biden is really trying to accomplish under the guise of infrastructure spending, his pretense of moderation, an element of his victory last year, will be undermined.
I don’t know whether Biden’s spending programs will be a negative for Democrats in 2022. On the plus side for the Dems, it will enable the party to claim credit for an economic recovery if, as seems almost inevitable with or without all the spending, one occurs.
I suspect, though, that the spending programs won’t be the plus the Democrats are hoping for. The Post’s article suggests as much.
And the Democrats may need a big plus to offset voters’ likely disgust with Biden’s woke agenda and immigration policy, along, quite possibly, with rising crime rates.