Joe Biden’s ballyhooed “infrastructure” plan, coupled with unprecedented stimulus spending, is cast by the obliging media as being about the middle class but seems oddly detached from how the overwhelming majority of the middle class lives, which is in lower-density, automobile-dependent neighborhoods. This dynamic was intensifying even before the pandemic. But Biden’s plan seems mostly about serving the relatively small sliver of transit-riding apartment dwellers living in denser neighborhoods. Overall, dense residential areas accommodate no more than 10 percent of the nation’s population.
Rather than emulate Roosevelt’s New Deal, as Biden’s handlers insist, the plan renounces much of what drove it. The New Deal, whatever one thinks of it, was about improving the material quality of life for most Americans, such as by spreading the benefits of homeownership to an ever-broader part of the population. In contrast, the Biden plan focuses on permanent redistribution through ever more entitlements and dependency — something Roosevelt opposed. It is likely to reduce our competitiveness by boosting energy and regulatory costs as well as taxes.
Perhaps nothing better illustrates the Biden administration’s myopic sense of geography than its transportation priorities. Take urban transit. Biden has proposed a policy that, by some estimates, would allocate $165 billion for public transit (including urban rail — subways, light rail, and commuter rail) against only $115 billion to fix and modernize roads and bridges. Transit, which accounts for about 1 percent of overall urban and rural ground transportation, would receive nearly 60 percent of the money.
Echoing conventional progressive rhetoric, the administration’s transportation secretary, Pete Buttigieg, embraces the idea of getting Americans out of their cars and into trains and buses. For at least half a century, this has been a principal public-policy objective — and the results have been spectacularly unsuccessful. Despite the expenditure of more than $2 trillion and the construction of many new rail systems, transit’s share of daily commute trips dropped 44 percent from 1970 to 2019 (8.9 percent to 5.0 percent of the total). Even before COVID, working at home accounted for more commuting nationwide than did transit. Outside New York City, nearly 60 percent more people worked at home than rode transit in 2019, according to the American Community Survey. Transit accounted for less than 2 percent of all urban travel before COVID. The administration nonetheless is thinking about taxing vehicle mileage to pay for infrastructure, something that would be wildly unpopular outside the handful of dense urban cores where transit ridership is high.
They’re waging economic war on the rest of America.
FIRST THAT’S THE OPPOSITE OF INFRASTRUCTURE: $20 Billion to Rip Up Highways, To Reduce Climate Change and Division Caused by Road Traffic.
And second, no. You’ll just isolate cities and make them even more useless hell holes filled with welfare recipients. But the left with their drive to take us back to the thirties never pays attention to unintended consequences.