Biden visit sparks spending debate amid inflation | News


MADISON (WKOW) — One hundred days after signing the $1 trillion infrastructure bill, President Joe Biden traveled to Wisconsin on Wednesday to tout the projects federal funding will make possible.

Dollars are flowing into the states at a time when inflation is at its highest level in 40 years. Biden and other leading Democrats say infrastructure spending will combat rising costs by creating more jobs and, in the long term, reducing business costs by expanding, repairing and maintaining roads and the bridges.

“When you have improved infrastructure, you can also attract more businesses to areas,” Democratic National Committee Chairman Jaime Harrison said in an interview on Wednesday. “More businesses in your areas, for small businesses, if you own a restaurant and you’re able to attract more people, then more people will move into those areas.”

Republicans argue that increased federal spending will only make inflation worse by adding to the deficit. Rep. Bryan Steil (R-WI) said he agreed many roads and bridges across the country needed repairs, but he thought a $1 trillion package covering other projects was excessive.

“We have to get inflation under control and we do that by controlling government spending,” Steil said. “The president’s approach is to continue accelerating public spending; I think that’s a bad move.”

Biden’s visit came the same day as a new Marquette Law poll found 43 percent of Wisconsin voters approve of his performance as president versus 52% who disapprove.

The poll also found that inflation is a serious concern for the vast majority of Wisconsin voters. 68% of respondents said they were “very” concerned about inflation and 28% said they were at least “somewhat” concerned about it. Only 4% said they were not too concerned or not at all concerned about inflation.

“You can walk and chew gum at the same time,” Harrison said. “We can handle inflation and everything else.”

Harrison echoed Biden’s remarks in his first State of the Union address on Tuesday. He said the Democrats’ plan would fight inflation by cutting costs, echoing Biden’s calls for Congress to do the improbable and onboard moderate Democrats with additional social spending, including improved subsidies for child care and allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug costs.

Steil said the spending Biden has already committed to has helped spur inflation and any additional packages will push prices up even further.

“The exact people this administration claims to be trying to help, they are actually going after overspending and rising inflation,” Steil said.

For Wisconsin, the infrastructure bill will bring in $5.2 billion for road and highway projects. The State also plans to receive:

  • $841 million to improve water quality
  • $592 million for public transit
  • $225 million for the repair and replacement of bridges
  • $100 million for broadband

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