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How can we support the bipartisan infrastructure bill when it’s not fully paid for and yet oppose the human infrastructure bill on the basis that it’s not fully funded?

Easy. The bipartisan infrastructure bill is for infrastructure accepted as government responsibilities decades ago, yet whose maintenance has gone unfunded. The human infrastructure bill is clearly for an expansion of government services. Why can’t Reps. Alex Mooney, R-W.Va., and Carol Miller, R-W.Va., see that? Here’s more.

The infrastructure bill provides $110 billion for roads and bridges, $66 billion for passenger and freight rail, $65 billion for expanded broadband access, $65 billion to update the electric grid, $55 billion for water and wastewater, $39 billion for public transit, $25 billion for airports, $17 billion for ports and waterways, $7.5 billion for a nationwide network of electric-vehicle chargers and $1 billion for modification of barriers splitting communities, which resulted from the previous building of roads, highways and bridges.

That accounts for more than $450 billion of the $550 billion of new spending in the bill. Other smaller spending categories include no-less-important projects, such as replacing lead water pipes. And about $650 billion of the bill’s spending would have been allocated for existing transportation and highway programs under previously planned appropriations for $1.2 trillion.

Of this, about $6 billion dollars is on its way to West Virginia, no thanks to Mooney and Miller.

Too bad they weren’t so fiscally conservative when they voted for President Donald Trump’s corporate tax cuts in late 2017, then immediately voted for increased spending in the budget bill of early 2018.

Thankfully, responsible members of Congress, such as Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., voted for West Virginians by supporting the Biden administration’s infrastructure bill.

So, why did Mooney object?

Mooney said the bill is stuffed with “liberal programs” but only pointed to two — a pilot project to study a mileage tax and a provision to address highways that were built through minority neighborhoods.

Well, I think we will need a way to tax road usage before the forthcoming deluge of electric vehicles gets here. After all, EVs avoid the federal excise tax on gasoline that has funded our roadways since June 1932.

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If Mooney has a solution, I haven’t heard it. Or does he think the forthcoming deluge of EVs using our roadways should go untaxed?

And yes, there is a provision that will help minority neighborhoods overcome isolating physical barriers resulting from the previous building of roads, highways and bridges, but that’s a small part of the bill. Less than one-tenth of 1%, in fact.

Charleston dodged a bullet, as our forefathers rejected the original federal proposal of building a portion of Interstate 64 on a mountain of dirt. Rather, they lobbied to place it on pillars, thus avoiding the isolation of the city’s West Side.

Others weren’t so lucky, such as Montgomery, Alabama, where the construction of Interstate 65 sequestered the town’s minority community. A quick Google search found 33 other instances of similar situations.

However, is that enough for our phantom congressman, a former Maryland state senator and former head of the Maryland Republican Party, to deny his West Virginia constituents the benefit of about $6 billion in projects from bridges to broadband?

He and Miller obviously think it is. I don’t.

Is the bipartisan infrastructure bill responsible for inflation? No. That lies at the feet of those who lamely attempted to manipulate the economy by starving the government of income (Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017) while increasing government cost (Budget Act of 2018), and then having to cope with the unforeseen COVID-19 pandemic and resultant recovery.

All those moves left consumers with more cash to buy the same (or fewer) goods and services, thus prices have gone up (inflation).

Mooney’s logic is like the kid who spends his lunch money on candy at recess, only to complain about nothing to eat for lunch. West Virginia deserves better. Especially those on fixed incomes.

Tom Crouser is a business consultant living in Mink Shoals. Reach him at tom and follow

@TomCrouser on Twitter. Also connect via Facebook and LinkedIn.

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