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Congressman: 'It's short-sighted to obsess' about price tag of Biden's $4T infrastructure plans

"These are not expenditures, these are investments," said Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-N.Y.) about Biden's massive infrastructure proposals as national debt climbs to $28.5 trillion

Updated: May 7, 2021 - 1:17pm

As the Democratic-led Congress prepares to draft President Biden's $4.1 trillion spending plan into legislation, New York Democratic Rep. Ritchie Torres said "it's short-sighted to obsess" about federal spending levels. 

Torres and Connecticut Rep. Rosa DeLauro, chair of the House Appropriations Committee, were asked if they think there should be a limit to how much the Democrats spend, given the record deficit and national debt during the pandemic.

"In my view, it's short-sighted to obsess about the dollar amount because these are not expenditures, these are investments," Torres said on a conference call about making the expanded Child Tax Credit in Biden's $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan permanent. "Investment in the United States as a share of GDP has fallen by 40% since the 1960s, and our infrastructure has been plagued by decades of disinvestment. 

"And for us, infrastructure is not only about roads and bridges, it's about the quality of the air we breathe and the water we drink. It's about safety, it's about affordable housing. It's about access to the internet, especially in a world of remote learning and telehealth. And it's about human infrastructure, and what can be more critical to the future of our country than investing in the stability of our families and the future of our children?"

In response to the same question about a possible limit to federal spending, DeLauro said the spending packages supported by Democrats "are not about pie in the sky."

"They are not about what some want to call a wish list," she said. "They are directly related to the need that has been demonstrated by this pandemic in the nation. No one batted an eye in 2017 when we provided a $1.9 trillion tax cut to the wealthiest people in this nation — that one tenth of 1% of the wealthiest in this country — and it was viewed as a way to create jobs, which it didn't do. Jobs, as a matter of fact, went offshore."

DeLauro compared Biden's $2.25 trillion American Jobs Plan and $1.8 trillion American Families Plan to the New Deal: "What happened with the New Deal? Think about it. Think big, and think about getting this nation back to where it should be, and making sure that people have jobs, they have an income, and they have the wherewithal to take care of themselves and their families. That is what we are doing."

The national debt is climbing to a record $28.5 trillion. The deficit has already passed $1 trillion for fiscal year 2021. The deficit set a record in fiscal year 2020 at $3 trillion.

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