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Op-Ed: Infrastructure bill shows more is possible, if we choose it

Op-Ed: Infrastructure bill shows more is possible, if we choose it
Washington DC, USA - FEBRUARY 10 2021: President Joe Biden delivers remarks to Department of Defense personnel, with Vice President Kamala Harris and Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III (Photo by Biksu Tong)

Friday night, just before midnight, the House of Representatives passed the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill that has headlined news reports over the last few months. Without a doubt, this is the biggest success of Joe Biden’s presidency so far.

True, the package isn’t as large as Biden hoped, but traditionally politics has been the art of half a loaf and Biden showed Friday he has mastered that much.

Liberals and conservatives alike celebrated the infrastructure bill as a bipartisan effort. The Senate passed the legislation before the House of Representatives, Senator Mitt Romney , was among those who cheered the effort. “The bipartisan group I worked with proved that it’s possible to achieve solutions without raising taxes or adding trillions to the national debt,” he said. 13 House Republicans voted for the measure while six House Democrats voted against it, resulting in a final vote of 228-206.

The Friday vote was one of the most contentious in recent memory. Biden originally scheduled to leave town 2:30 p.m. Friday afternoon. He began the day happily announcing that the recent jobs report showed the creation of 531,000 new jobs in October, a solid victory for the Biden administration and one that came after recent polls showed Biden’s popularity sagging.

As the vote grew near, tension began to build. Progressives within the Democratic party began to express their dissent from the infrastructure bill, arguing that it should be passed in tandem with the rest of Biden’s Build Back Better agenda which may face more Republican opposition down the road. This dilemma delayed the vote considerably, to the point that Biden waited until Saturday to address the nation and announce his triumph. “I truly believe that 50 years from now, folks are going to look back and say, ‘This was the moment, this was the period, this year and the next couple years, when America decided to win the competition of the 21st century, to get in the game full bore,’” Biden said the following morning.

Oddly enough, about the same time Biden was announcing the infrastructure package, I received several emails from former President Trump. His son sent me an email too. I wasn’t surprised to see his son send me an email telling me his daddy had something for me, maybe even a signed football if I contributed money to ensure his dad’s economic welfare.

The contrast between the past and the present has never been starker. There are plenty of people still screaming about Biden – his perceived failures and his lack of “Trumpian sense of theater” – which I suppose means Biden can act like an adult when he needs to do so – unlike his predecessor.

Biden showed that in Scotland during the UN Climate Change Conference and told the world we must “adaptability” in dealing with climate change going forward. Around the same time, Trump sent out an email still calling climate change “a hoax” – and still referred to it as global warming. The consequences are now dire for the planet, but many in the U.S. won’t and don’t believe it. Millions still won’t admit Biden won the election – they certainly do not want to admit the survival of our species is problematic and at the very least our children and grandchildren are going to grow up in a world fundamentally different than the one in which we grew to maturity.

Joe Biden is not the perfect president. Donald Trump isn’t merely a cartoon-like fascist who threatens our very survival. They are two men offering fundamentally different views of our future. Trump is all for looting and pillaging. He and his minions decried spending money on our basic infrastructure. In Europe and in Asia high-speed rail is taken for granted; in the U.S. it’s a pipe dream. Nations all across the globe offer different varieties of universal healthcare; in the United States, most of us are one major operation away from choosing whether to sell everything and declare bankruptcy or give up and die.

And while the last week has been a good one for the country and represents a vital step forward in healing the divide in our nation, the Biden administration’s victories this week are not enough on their own. Donald Trump remains a threat to the world – especially if you continue buying his cheaply made swag. The Build Back Better agenda still has to pass. Democrats need to show more solidarity and more Republicans need to help their constituents and deny the “alternate reality” Donald Trump continues to amplify.

At the end of the day none of us can take our climate for granted.

“Adaptability” is everything.

Frank Quaranta