Billions and trillions are spilling out of the Federal Government, or at least they’re trying to. All that and more in The Morning Shift for February 12, 2021.
I am amazed at this quote from a career politician, published by Reuters in the article “Biden pledges to fix decrepit U.S. infrastructure in bipartisan push” covering this administration’s plans:
The focus on infrastructure signals Biden, a Democrat, will seek to prioritize some policy areas that appeal to both parties, after his $1.9 trillion COVID-19 aid package winds its way through Congress in coming days without significant Republican support.
“There are not many Republican or Democratic roads and bridges,” Biden said ahead of the meeting. “I really, honest to God, never have thought of ... infrastructure as being a partisan issue,” he added.
Feigned surprise or no, Reuters makes some room to lay out just how little Trump did in office:
A Republican, Trump in 2018 unveiled an infrastructure plan that proposed spending $200 billion over 10 years to spur $1.5 trillion in largely private sector infrastructure spending but Congress never voted on it.
Last year, Trump’s White House drafted a $1 trillion infrastructure spending plan but the administration never publicly released it.
Funding for infrastructure projects has been a point of contention in recent years after Congress abandoned a decades-old policy of using fuel tax revenue to largely pay for infrastructure repairs. In 2019, Trump and Democratic congressional leaders agreed to spend $2 trillion over a decade, but he never proposed a new revenue source to pay for the upgrades and never made it a priority.
The simplest solution here, of course, would be to simply ban cars and let the roads return to nature. I’m surprised that this plan is not being discussed in greater detail.
On Wednesday, the House voted to approve $42 billion for transportation but left airlines for a separate vote on Thursday. That’s done and dusted now, with $14 billion going to airlines themselves. From Reuters:
The House of Representatives Financial Services Committee on a 29-24 vote approved the $14 billion for airlines and $1 billion for contractors to cover payroll through September.
The funds will be included in the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill proposed by President Joe Biden, whose initial plan did not include new money for airlines. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Thursday that she expects lawmakers to complete legislation based on the bill by the end of February.
Details of the day before also come from Reuters:
The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on a 39-25 vote approved $42.5 billion for transportation including $30 billion for public transit agencies, $8 billion to U.S. airports and concessionaires, $1.5 billion to Amtrak and $3 billion for a temporary payroll support program for aerospace manufacturing.
President Joe Biden had proposed just $20 billion for struggling U.S. transit agencies - and nothing for airlines or airports.
I like to imagine a 2021 in which Biden just lets the era of cheap air travel come to a swift end, but I’m not sure we’re ready as a nation to go back to driving to Walley World as opposed to flying.
Facing pressure from the UAW, the Biden administration is also, I guess, trying to figure out what the hell it even can do about the shortage of semiconductor chips threatening the American auto industry, as it has already put a hurt on the rest of the world. From Reuters:
A White house official who declined to be named because the person was not authorized to speak publicly told Reuters it “is in active conversation with all stakeholders - from auto companies to semiconductor firms, as well as congressional leaders and diplomatic partners - to see what actions can be taken to make sure American workers are not being negatively impacted by this shortage.”
The official added it is critical “to identify more durable solutions to addressing the longstanding issues faced by the semiconductor industry and the end users of these goods.”
In a Jan. 19 letter to Biden adviser Brian Deese first reported by Reuters, the United Auto Workers union and the heads of associations representing automakers, auto dealers and parts manufacturers asked the Biden administration to consider “urging major silicon wafer foundries to ramp up production of automotive grade wafers.”
Hopefully whatever we do is more than Germany’s plan of sending a strongly worded letter to Taiwan and hoping for the best.
Wrapping up the Biden administration news for this morning is that Ford is still mad, even though the Feds were rather lenient in handling the case of LG (battery supplier to GM and others) versus SK (battery supplier to Ford and others).
The Feds ruled against SK and blocked it from importing batteries into the country, but gave Ford an exception for 10 years. Ford uses SK batteries for its upcoming electric F-150, which is some big deal shit for America as a nation. Reuters explains:
The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) on Wednesday sided with LG Chem, but permitted SK to import components for domestic production of lithium ion batteries for Ford’s EV F-150 program for four years, and for Volkswagen of America’s electric vehicle line for two years.
“A voluntary settlement between these two suppliers is ultimately in the best interest of US manufacturers and workers,” Farley wrote on Twitter, adding that “ITC ruling makes way for @Ford to bring to market our groundbreaking electric F-150.”
LG Energy Solution and SK Innovation did not have comment on the matter when reached by Reuters on Friday. Volkswagen declined to comment.
Tweeting about how unfair the world is to you is very 2020, Jim.
The New York Taxi Workers Alliance has been serious as of late, repeatedly painting the city yellow, shutting down the Brooklyn Bridge and other major thoroughfares as it campaigns for debt forgiveness. The city screwed taxi workers out of an honest career when it let ride-hailing apps flood the market here, devaluing the limited supply of taxi medallions and sending taxi drivers into inescapable debt.
Taxi workers are demanding debt forgiveness, and now they have an ally in Chuck Schumer, majority leader in the Senate:
The NYTWA had to assemble and protest in front of Schumer’s office for him to listen, but sometimes that’s what it takes:
The NYTWA has been a force for good here in New York for some time now. I can’t say how much this debt forgiveness could do for this city or this country, and I can’t support the NYTWA enough.
I will never cease to be amazed at how little Trump accomplished for this country in four whole years.