Americans are enthusiastic about spending money on physical infrastructure — bridges, roads, broadband. But this racist bill hands out jobs and contracts and locates projects based on race, not merit. Minority businesses and neighborhoods hold the inside track. If you’re white, you’re low-priority.
The bill includes grants to install solar or wind technologies and generate jobs in areas decimated by closing coal mines or coal-fired electric plants. Here’s the catch: When contractors bid, the bill says minority-owned businesses will get selected first. Bad news for small-time white contractors in depressed areas.
The same is true for the bill’s proposals to improve traffic patterns in cities. Contractors and subcontractors get priority only if they’re owned by minorities or women. White male business owners can take a hike.
Americans should be outraged — but not surprised. After all, President Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act, passed in March, also put into place an ugly system of discrimination against whites. It offered debt relief to black farmers, but not white farmers. Another provision offered billions in aid to minority-owned and women-owned restaurants, but told struggling restaurants owners who happened to be white men that they had to go to the back of the line.
The injustice was obvious. White male farmers and restaurant owners sued, claiming the anti-white provisions are unconstitutional. So far, these challengers are winning. In every case, federal judges have halted the race-based programs in the American Rescue Plan Act until the challengers have their day in court. Politico reported last week that Biden’s Justice Department may fold without a fight on the black-farmer debt relief cases, because the law isn’t on the administration’s side.
You would think Democrats and the Biden White House would get the message. Instead, they’re doubling down on rigging legislation and divvying up taxpayer dollars to benefit minorities and shortchange whites.
Chances are high the infrastructure bill’s hodgepodge of anti-white discrimination will be struck down by federal courts. In 1989, the Supreme Court ruled that the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution bars government from trying to even the score by discriminating against whites and in favor of minorities. The justices warned against creating “a patchwork of racial preferences based on statistical generalizations” to correct past injustices. That’s precisely what this infrastructure bill does.
The bill’s backers would have you believe that obsolete airports, dilapidated public works and deteriorating roads and public spaces are evidence of racial injustice. Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY) rails that “our infrastructure is racist” and calls on the Congress to pass a bill that “puts the needs of underserved and disadvantaged communities at the fore.”
That’s code for minority communities. But the truth is, there are plenty of poor white people in this country, too, and poor, predominantly white communities that could benefit from a bold federal infrastructure initiative. Race and ethnicity should have nothing to do with it. Locate the projects and put the funds where the economic need is greatest, regardless of race.
West Virginia has the lowest average income in the nation and ranks 46th in internet connectivity. Maine ranks 36th out of 50 states for income, and 34th in broadband connectivity. People in these states could really benefit from federal broadband assistance. Here’s the hitch: The infrastructure bill tilts the grant scale in favor of states with high minority and non-English-speaking populations, instead of considering only economic need and existing broadband capacity. Because Maine and West Virginia are 94 percent white, they’ll get less.
Polls show that Americans favor fixing roads, bridges, tunnels and airports. They know that good infrastructure promotes economic growth. But they’ve been kept in the dark about the fine print in the bill. Under the guise of upgrading the nation, the bill unfairly treats whites like second-class citizens.
Betsy McCaughey is a former lieutenant governor of New York.