Infrastructure Deal Still under Construction

Infrastructure Deal Still under Construction

July 27, 2021

When ESPN asked followers what "isn't an Olympic sport but feels like an Olympic sport," Senator Mark Warner (D-Va.) half-joked: "trying to negotiate a bipartisan infrastructure deal." Except in this case, the two sides are wrestling without anything to show for it. Five weeks after prematurely announcing a deal, the two sides seem farther apart than ever.

A few hours after the bipartisan team broke for the night, the rumors had already hit the wire: the working group was starting to fall apart. "Bleak" was how the New York Times characterized the compromise's chances. "Painful," was Senator Susan Collins's (R-Maine) assessment. As talks reached their "darkest phase" (Politico's phrase), the two sides started publicly feuding over disputes that were supposedly resolved. "In limbo" was how Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) put it on "Washington Watch." Yes, he said, "Ugly roads and bridges need a facelift [but] I don't think we need a $3.5 trillion dollar bill [on top of the $1 trillion dollar deal the two sides are negotiating]. What they're proposing [to follow this bill] is not infrastructure. What Nancy Pelosi is talking about is a liberal wish list... I would walk out before I would let that thing pass."

Worse, Graham shook his head, Democrats "are talking about putting amnesty in it, which would blow a bigger hole in the border." The two sides were supposed to be hashing out an overhaul of real infrastructure with about $559 billion dollars of new spending. Everything else would have been redirected from COVID funding. Now, in the eleventh hour, Graham fumes, "Democrats want to change it." Call me crazy, he said, but "I think we need an infrastructure package that's truly infrastructure. I want it to be paid for." But when it comes to the $3.5 trillion dollar bill that the House's radicals want on top of that (which experts say is more like $5 trillion dollars), "I would fight that as hard as I could fight it."

For now, though, the clock is ticking. Monday, the deadline Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) set for a deal on the smaller infrastructure package, has come and gone. With the August recess just around the corner, the Democratic leader is done being patient. "It's time for everyone to get to yes," he threatened on the Senate floor. But even if they do, conservatives argue, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has already said she won't put the Senate bill on the floor until her hugely controversial $3.5 trillion-dollar socialist grab bag gets a vote. But, as Graham points out, even that's a modest estimate.

"It's on top of what we spend to run the government. [Pelosi, Biden, and Bernie Sanders want] social programs that will never go away." They call it "human infrastructure." "But I've never driven on human infrastructure," Graham joked. And the reality is, "It's not $3.5 trillion dollars. All of these programs... once they're up and running will be hard to get rid of." Just take a look at what the president is demanding after the Senate comes to an infrastructure arrangement, he said. Things like "paid family leave," which would be a government mandate. "That's going to be a cost to the Treasury. And at the end of the day, that's not going to create a job. What it's going to do is create cost to business. So if you own a business out there, you're going to have to pay paid family leave. That becomes an expense of your business. You're going to pass that cost on to the consumer, and it's going to create inflation."

More inflation, to be accurate. Americans are already struggling to keep up with the skyrocketing prices for everything from grocery to gas. The Democrats' bigger, second-wave bill, banking experts say, would be a financial disaster. "Experts far more experienced than me say that if we floor the zone with this $3 trillion dollars in spending, it's not going to end well," Republican Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) warned.

And where would all of this money come from, anyway? "It's coming from debt that will be borrowed," Graham explained. "They're going to say they'll pay for it, but here's what's going to happen: They're going to try to pay for it, and the first thing they're going to do is raise corporate taxes to whatever level that [West Virginia Senator] Joe Manchin (D) will agree to." But that won't be enough, "so they're going to have to raise the capital gains rate. [Then, they'll] have to change the estate tax deductions for family farmers." Last but not least, "there's going to be a massive increase in taxes to pay for this bill... at a time when the economy is trying to recover."

It's hardly a winning campaign strategy. "I think what [Pelosi] is telling the American people is: 'My liberal wish list is more important [than the country's financial solvency].'" A real bipartisan bill that was truly infrastructure would create energy in the economy, because you're building things and adding jobs. But if Democrats refuse to do that and take up this "tax-and-spend package," Graham argues, "I think [Republicans] will blow them out in 2022." The public may be ready to upgrade our roads and bridges, but they're "very leery of inflation." And this $3.5 trillion dollar blowout is nothing but.

The Left is "sucking wind on the border," Graham says. "It's completely broken. Crime is rampant, and inflation is just spiraling out of control because of all the spending. If you add on top of that, stopping progress on true infrastructure because you want more spending and taxes, that becomes a death blow to the Democratic Party in 2022." But so far, that's a risk the greedy Left seems willing to take. Will it be worth it? We'll find out next November.


Tony Perkins's Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.


There's No Place Like Home -- to Learn

July 27, 2021

If someone told me 18 months ago that homeschooling American households would triple in a year, I would hardly have thought it possible. Nor would I have believed the Associated Press and the Washington Post could report positively on something as beneficial as homeschooling. As it turns out, nearly anything can change in a pandemic. By the fall of 2020, 11 percent of U.S. households were homeschooling their children, up from 5.4 percent in the spring of 2020, and 3.3 percent in the years before that, according to the Household Pulse Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau. "A lot of parents and guardians are going to keep on with home schooling, or at the very least, give it another semester or two," said education researcher Ellen Dundas.

"Even more remarkable are where those gains came from," reported the Washington Post. "Even though home schooling has often been considered the domain of religious White families, the most significant increases were seen among Black, Latino and Asian households." The Post reported that while white families homeschooling doubled from 4 to 8 percent between 2019 and May 2021, black families homeschooling increased from about one percent to eight percent, and Hispanic families homeschooling increased from two percent to nine percent. Asian families homeschooling have increased from one percent in 2016 to five percent in 2021.

I've said before, the silver lining of the coronavirus pandemic is that parents were forced to spend more time at home with their children and saw firsthand the radical indoctrination being pushed on them. Despite Leftist mockery, the pushback against critical race theory, explicit LGBT curriculum, social justice activism, and other offensive material is coming from parents across the political spectrum. In fact, some of the most vocal parents are those in Left-leaning suburbs of Washington, D.C., Palm Beach County in Florida, Westchester County in New York, Maricopa County in Arizona, and suburbs of Detroit.

Study after study reveals that massive majorities of parents of every background, particularly poor and minority households, want choice and accountability in education so they can give their children the best possible education. Homeschooling can provide parents exactly that flexibility, said Joyce Burges, co-founder and program director of the National Black Home Educators. Homeschooling "gives parents an opportunity to own their children's education." Schools aren't delivering what black parents want, she said, "a wholesome education" to develop "the whole child." So even before the pandemic, black families were beginning to explore other options, particularly resources that teach African-American history the way they want their children to learn it. For instance, you'll never hear about the godly faith of black Americans that built this country in a public school.

The pandemic forced many parents to homeschool reluctantly, but that doesn't mean they will send their child back to public school. "Parents want stability," explained Burges. The hybrid models, weeks at home, and teachers' strikes that featured so heavily during the pandemic are anything but stable. Many parents simply had to overcome their fears. "Parents are forgetting about whatever kind of inadequacies that they feel educationally or academically." During the pandemic, they experienced how easy it was to teach their children. They also recognized the benefit to their child, when they could tailor the education to their child's needs and interests, away from the negative peer pressure, wasted time, indoctrination, and other disadvantages of the public-school model. America will recover from the pandemic, but many families who are determined to educate their children at home will never send them back.

To check out our education resources, visit https://frc.org/education.


Tony Perkins's Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.


State Attorneys General Step up to Protect America's Children

July 27, 2021

Children in need of protection from harmful gender transition procedures seem to have fewer and fewer advocates these days. Whether political leaders willing to turn their backs on them or elites trying to stay in sync with the socially-liberal views of their peers, children are the ones being left to pay the price. The latest example is the ACLU's lawsuit against Arkansas's recently-enacted Save Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE) Act.

Passed by the Arkansas legislature earlier this year, this law prevents minors from getting irreversible gender transition procedures, prevents taxpayer funds or medical insurance mandates from paying for them, and provides legal remedies for minors who have been permanently disfigured or sterilized by them -- all common sense, and (what should be) uncontroversial, provisions.

While a federal judge has since temporarily enjoined the SAFE Act from taking effect, a coalition of 17 state attorneys general stepped in and joined Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge's defense to let the court know blocking this law was unacceptable.

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall, who led this effort, recently joined Tony Perkins on "Washington Watch" to explain why he believes this is so important.

Children should not be pressured into making life-changing medical decisions at "an age in which the mind itself is not [fully] developed," Marshall said. "We know this is an experimental process that, at least if the research is to be guiding us, which we would hope it is, tells us that most children that present with gender dysphoria ultimately resolve themselves by the time they reach the age of maturity."

Minors are prevented from smoking and drinking until they reach a certain age. We require parents to use car seats and seat belts with young children. It only makes sense that children would be required to wait until they reach a certain age before they can undergo experimental surgeries and make permanent changes to their bodies--changes they will be forced to live with for their entire lives even if their feelings about the surgery change in later years.

Teenagers considering gender transition surgery are often confused and vulnerable. Requiring them to wait until they are an adult for these procedures is a common-sense policy everyone should be able to get behind. Let us hope that more leaders will see the science behind policies like the SAFE Act -- science that authorities in other countries like Great Britain, Sweden, and Finland have already recognized.

So, now that the SAFE Act has been blocked at the district court level, what's next?

Marshall explains: "Arkansas is going to directly appeal this decision" and "Alabama will lead the amicus brief like we had" done at the district court level. We need to "allow multiple states to be able to weigh in in support of what Arkansas has done" on the SAFE Act here.

Despite new court challenges like this, there is reason to hope. The SAFE Act was passed overwhelmingly by the Arkansas state legislature (those who were elected to represent the will of the voters), which overrode the governor's veto of the bill. Further, this preliminary stage ruling is only temporary; we believe the truth about why children need to be protected from these procedures will come out. And momentum is on the side of medical authorities, like those of the three European countries mentioned earlier, seeing the light on this issue.

Marshall hopes that his and the other AGs' efforts will "encourage more states to join us again to uphold what is a valid action on behalf of Arkansas's children." Indeed, let us hope and pray so.

To learn more about the SAFE Act and see how your state stacks up on this issue, see https://www.frc.org/safeact.