First let's define how each side would prefer to pay for and not to pay for infrastructure investment.
Republicans would prefer to use excess money approved for covid expenses in the covid relief package passed earlier this year or user fees like toll roads and gas taxes to foot the bill. Most forms of tax increase are looked upon as unappealing. They are more willing to hear arguments for reducing expenses elsewhere in the budget; things like social programs designed to help out those who are less fortunate or security and surveillance for voting drop boxes in low income areas. However, they are absolutely unwilling to consider increasing the corporate tax rate that they fought so desperately to lower under Trump.
Democrats would prefer to increase taxes on the wealthy and corporations who are paying a greatly diminished percentage of their total income in comparison to the rest of us. Eliminating even half of the corporate tax reduction implemented under Trump would pay for trillions of dollars in infrastructure investment. Arguably those very same corporations would benefit the most from that investment. Raising the taxes on the middle class in any way, sneaky hidden user fees or after the fact electric vehicle punishment taxes are a nonstarter.
So how do we get them to agree? To answer that I need you to take a trip on a logic train with me. Bear with me if my train seems pedantic or as if I'm mansplaining but I want there to be no chance of misunderstanding my course of reasoning.
First let's take a look at some of the corporations we bailed out with the covid package. Though I'm certain this example applies to other industries, I will use the airlines as a specific example here because someone very close to me works in that industry and I'm very familiar with how things were and are affected by covid there. We've all heard the phrase "too big to fail". We've also heard "we're all in this together". Our corporations are fond of using these phrases when things get bad and there is some sort of crisis. The days of corporations having a "rainy day" fund for when there's a downturn in our economy are over. Now they just repeat the two phrases above and hold out their hats for the government to issue them their corporate welfare. We pay it too! It's as if keeping our mega-corporations in business is an end unto itself. If they use the funds to buy back stocks instead of hiring or at least not firing employees, we still keep giving them more money. Sometimes it's a loan, a very low interest loan. Sometimes it's a gift with conditions. Always they find loopholes: buyouts to early retirement, lump sum bribes to encourage employees to quit, trickery, playing on employee loyalty to do things against their best interests for the corporation's benefit. Punishing those who won't go part time or quit with odious scheduling options while exporting the prime shifts to foreign countries. We see it over and over. These are all things that happened during covid in the airline industry.
And now that the demand for travel is back, higher, in some places, than it was before covid. The prices have gone through the roof! One could argue the laws of supply and demand to justify the increased price. The price that is often three times higher than prices before covid.
I submit, the airlines would likely have had to declare bankruptcy or gone out of business had we the people, us taxpayers, not ponied up the dough to keep them in business. How about some freaking gratitude? If I were a CEO at any of the major airlines I would be offering every US citizen a discount to fly on my airline out of gratitude for saving my company. I'd be advertising the hell out of it too. Making it clear to all that my corporation is grateful. Instead what do we taxpayers get? Higher prices, while those corporations use the extra profit to buy back their stock and get extra millions in bonuses that they likely won't have to pay taxes on.
Think about when we the regular people are in the same type of situation. Nobody thinks we are too big to fail. We might "all be in this together" but nobody is giving us a loan to cover our expenses until things get better. If we are lucky enough to be able to borrow money to consolidate or carry us over it certainly is not a no interest or low interest loan. We end up paying close to thirty percent interest.
If we truly are "in this together", sharing the burden in times of scarcity should be matched by sharing the wealth in times of plenty. We are getting a raw deal and the corporations are not going to voluntarily do the right thing by us. If they intended to, they would have already. Instead they are going to keep trying to get more Republicans elected to lower the corporate tax rate again and again and again. Republicans know all of this. They do not want to change it but in order to make my next point and have them inclined towards nodding along, this train had to make the stops mentioned above.
If we had the corporations that we gave or loaned billions of dollars to, pay that money back at thirty percent interest we'd effectively be receiving money earmarked for covid relief back into our government coffers. We could then use that money to finance the infrastructure investments so desperately needed in our country. We gave away two trillion. If we get back half of what we gave away that's a huge windfall of money that could go a long way to bridge (pun intended) the gap between the Republican and Democrat proposals. The Republicans get what they want because the corporate tax rate is untouched. The Democrats get what they want because the corporations are funding the lion's share of the infrastructure improvements. Each side gets enough to take back home to show their constituents how they stood up to the other side and got the important things they need without giving in to the evil demands of the villainous other side.
It'd be nice to see someone in our government talking about this. I'm likely being naive but this is as good a solution as I've seen. Better than expecting Republicans to pass a compromise bill and then tell them everything they don't pass will get crammed down their throats in a conjoined, Democrats only bill.