In 1993, a comedian came to prominent attention with his unique and very relatable approach. Jeff Foxworthy released the comedy album titled “You Might Be a Redneck If…”.
His signature bit was packed with jokes like “If when you cut your grass you find a car… you might be a redneck.”.
By appealing to blue collar workers, and those who make fun of them, he was able to reach multi-platinum status and later receive a Grammy for best spoken comedy album. His approach was a method of reduction to the ridiculous. Talking about rednecks in cartoon-ish descriptions of who they seem to be. It’s funny because it’s true, even if the truth is stretched a little.
We need Jeff Foxworthy now to tell us what it means to be a conservative. Maybe a Netflix or something, because at this point, the term has devolved into little more than a joke.
Back in early 2020 (that wasn't a dream, it was last year) then President Donald Trump proposed a $1 trillion infrastructure bill. It included investments in roads, bridges, waterways, telecommunications, etc.
Trump couldn’t get the bill passed. At the time, he was single handedly shutting down the Pandemic by preventing visitors from China, and while that didn’t work, I can see why his administration may have been busy. Trump himself was too busy being Trump, which is why referencing “Infrastructure week” has become a running joke.
If Trump would have passed the infrastructure bill, it wasn't clear how it would be paid. One of the biggest regulatory changes Trump did pass was the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. This was the largest tax reform in 30 years which reduced taxes especially for wealthy investors and corporations.
In an unfortunate turnabout this week, President Joe Biden signed a bill with similar provisions to Trump’s infrastructure bill with a similar trillion dollar price tag. It was touted as a bipartisan bill, but only a fraction of the Republican Party supported the bill with their vote.
It feels good to win if you get the credit. When you don’t, some would rather lose.
In some cases, rivals will take the lemons generously handed to them by the other party, and make stump speech lemonade. Republican US Representative from Alabama, Gary Palmer who voted against the bill is now posturing to gain credit, “This is the opportunity we have been working for as a region and a state."
Palmer is bragging about the $369 million that his state will receive over five years to complete a project known as the Northern Beltline. He says "Now is the time for us to take advantage of it and complete the work by finishing the Northern Beltline and building a better future for the Birmingham metro area and central Alabama.”
Well that’s not very conservative of him is it? Supporting wreckless government spending?
Perhaps embarrassing to other Republicans, Senator Mitch McConnell is actually expressing how proud he is of his vote in favor of the infrastructure bill, despite the ridicule he is receiving from Trump for backing a bill similar to the one the former President tried to pass in his time in office.
Is Mitch being a conservative? He may be, but he is not being a Republican, if being a Republican is being against a Democrat, as has been the case in recent memory.
A Conservative Success.
I think honest conservatives should be thrilled with the passing of the infrastructure bill.
To start, this bill is a conservative success because the spending is modest. The bill is marketed as a $1 trillion package, but the provisions only include $550 billion in new spending. The rest is coming from existing funds that have not been used including some unspent pandemic relief funding. What is more conservative than that?
As I noted before, conservatives in Congress along with a conservative President have tried to pass infrastructure bills to improve the condition of important assets in the Country before. Much like replacing your roof after it has outlived its useful life, it is neither conservative nor liberal to replace it. It is good stewardship. Similarly, if you save money from other budgets to invest in essential needs for the integrity of your home, it is nothing other than conservative.
A few Republicans are trying to grab credit for the Infrastructure bill because it is a conservative win. Investments in cities, transportation and internet resources will create jobs immediately, as federal workers and contractors are hired to complete the work. Then it will be followed by businesses creating jobs and individuals investing by living and working in the areas that benefit from these investments. And all while spending less than planned by the previous administration.
Like Eisenhower is known for developing our Interstate Highways, every President would love to be known for advancements that create lasting improvements to our country. It would be a conservative success to cause businesses to boom, creating new jobs and economic opportunity.
This brings us to the only reason this is not a win for Conservatives. They don't get to take credit for it. Even though a small handful voted with integrity, it is not credited to the Republican claims. Will this infrastructure investment result in something as memorable as Interstates? I don’t know, but whatever is remembered, it will have President Joe Biden’s signature on it.
It’s Cool to be Conservative
Some people think it is conservative to be in the Republican party, but Republicans, who are not conservatives when it comes to spending, have not managed to reduce the budget’s deficit. In fact, this statistical analysis demonstrates that Republicans are conservative when it comes to taxation, but do not decrease spending. Historically, this has increased to the deficit. A very simple historic snapshot will show you that spending has not decreased under any president and only Bill Clinton has had a balanced budget likely because he benefited from a booming economy. We all like tax cuts, but they don't pay for themselves. It has proved to be a fantasy although a popular one to believe.
On the other hand, every party has wanted the systems of a developed nation, supporting international commerce, job creation and more. As it stands now, there is no Libertarian who is Libertarian enough to take this infrastructure development off of our collective shoulders as an investor. That means we have to pay for it through federal investment of our taxes. We have all benefited from our country's infrastructure, and if we are going to compete internationally, we’ll need to maintain those assets and improve them.
So is that a liberal agenda?
Well, if you vote to have your tax-cut cake and eat the economic infrastructure too... you might be a conservative.