Heather Cox Richardson had more details on the infrastructure plan last night. Although the final details still have to be worked out, I have a hunch that the larger plan will get passed, along with the leaner "hard infrastructure" plan.
In the final analysis, the plans will be a boon for the Democratic party, since the Republicans are looking more and more incompetent. Texas governor has now asked for outside help, since his incompetence has caused COVID cases to spike, quickly reducing the number of available hospital beds to dangerous levels. The same situation, of course, also exists in Florida.
The large infrastructure package will reshape American society to invest in ordinary Americans and to get the nation on track to face a future that does not center around fossil fuels. That such an investment is on the table right now seems like good timing, since today, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) of the United Nations released the most thorough report on climate ever compiled, and the conclusions are a “code red for humanity,” according to United Nations secretary-general Antonio Guterres. The report is based on more than 14,000 studies and is endorsed by 195 governments.
It warns that we have waited too long to reduce our use of fossil fuels, guaranteeing that the globe will continue to warm for at least the next 30 years even if we address climate change immediately. This will mean more extreme weather: fires—like the Dixie fire currently raging in Northern California, which is the largest in the state’s history—floods, disease, extinctions, and social conflict. If we address the issue, though, there is still a window in which we could mitigate changes that are even more dire.
The Republicans object to the larger infrastructure bill because it uses the government to invest in the economy, which will cost tax dollars. For forty years, Republicans have called for turning the economy over to private interests and for tax cuts to free up capital for investment, which they argued would make the economy grow. But those policies have sparked discontent as they concentrated wealth upward and ran up huge deficits and debt.
Meanwhile, Republican policies are not looking very good right now, as Republican governors have stood staunchly against combatting Covid-19 with either masks or vaccines.
Cases continue to rise in Florida and Texas, where governors Ron DeSantis and Greg Abbott have prohibited mask mandates. In Florida, journalist Katherine G. Hobbs reports: “Volusia County and Advent Health Orlando are finalizing the purchase of fleets of refrigerated mobile morgues amid Florida's COVID surge.” In Texas, Abbott today called on Texas hospitals to postpone elective procedures in order to clear more beds for Covid patients. The state’s health department is trying to find more health care workers to come to the state to help out.
Nonetheless, DeSantis and Abbott refuse to modify their ban on mask mandates, clearly seeing a strong stand on this issue as a political statement that they believe will win them Republican voters. But as infections and deaths, especially among children, rise, the wisdom of this move is not clear.
In Florida, the Miami-Dade school system is the fourth largest school district in the nation. When Superintendent Alberto Carvalho made it clear that he will follow the guidance of public health experts and doctors, DeSantis threatened to withhold the salaries of any superintendents or school board members who defy his executive order prohibiting mask mandates.
Carvalho issued a statement saying “At no point shall I allow my decision to be influenced by a threat to my paycheck; a small price to pay considering the gravity of this issue and the potential impact to the health and well-being of our students and dedicated employees.”