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We Need a Department of Infrastructure

Recently there's been a lot of talk about President Biden's infrastructure bill. This bill would cost trillions of dollars, not just billions, like most spending bills, this would cost trillions. There is no doubt that we need to rebuild America's crumbling infrastructure, but Biden's grandstanding is not the right way to do it. There's no need for Biden to get up on a soapbox and try to solve all or our infrastructure problems with a single spending bill. A better (and cheaper) approach would be to create a new government agency. I call it the Department Of Infrastructure.

In the past, whenever there was a need to create a new government agency, the government did it. When people saw there was a problem with pollution, the government responded by creating a new agency called the Environmental Protection Agency. A few years later, the government realized that there was a problem with energy, so they responded to the energy crisis by creating another new government agency called the Department Of Energy. I think there is nothing fundamentally wrong with the idea of creating new agencies. A new agency to handle America's infrastructure would take an orderly approach to the problem, and that would be far better than having politicians haggle over an 'infrastructure bill' the way they are doing now.

A federal department of infrastructure would be staffed by experts in the fields of civil engineering, mechanical engineering, geology, and architecture. The department of infrastructure would be responsible for monitoring the status of roads, railroads, pipelines, power plants, power lines, canals and dams, as well as other physical structures that provide for our security, including walls. A border wall across the U.S.-Mexican border could become part of the department of infrastructure's responsibilities. The department of infrastructure would be funded on an as-needed basis, which means that Congress would have to decide how much funding the department of infrastructure gets every twelve months. Congress would allocate the funding for the department of infrastructure on a yearly basis, instead of trying to pass 'infrastructure bills' on a sporadic and haphazard basis, like they're trying to do now.

At the beginning of April, 2021, Biden started making speeches about the problems he was having with his infrastructure bill, mainly, how he was having trouble paying for it. Biden lamented that there were huge multi-national corporations that were shifting their profits to foreign countries, specifically, to foreign countries that have lower tax rates than the U.S.A. does. Biden decided that there must be a way to somehow shift all the profits from the multi-national corporations back to the U.S.A. and so he came up with an idea that was called the Global Minimum Tax. Biden brazenly said that all the foreign countries, all around the world should raise their tax rates, so multi-national corporations would lose interest in foreign tax shelters, and would somehow shift their operations back to the U.S.A. After the multi-nationals come back to the U.S.A., they would pay plenty of taxes to the U.S.A., and therefore, the U.S.A. would have plenty of tax dollars that could be used to pay for Biden's infrastructure bill. So, basically, Biden was saying, "Hey, I want you to do me a favor, I want you to raise your tax rates".

Now, let's consider if it's legal or illegal for the President to ask foreign countries for favors. It is actually illegal under an article of the U.S. constitution known as the emoluments clause. The emoluments clause says, among other things, that it is illegal for the U.S. to bestow a title of nobility. One example of a title of nobility was seen when John F. Kennedy was President in the 1960's. Kennedy was an Irish-American, and the government of Ireland granted Kennedy honorary Irish citizenship. Citizenship is a title granted by a foreign government, so it's illegal under the emoluments clause. When Obama was President, he won the Nobel prize, but that's not illegal, since the Nobel prize is awarded by a private organization, it's not awarded by a government. In general, the emoluments clause prevents people from bribing the President or other government officials.

Let's consider the case of the Panama canal. Let's suppose that the President of the U.S.A. wanted to build a canal across Panama 100 years ago. Suppose the government of Panama said, "We'll give you the land, as a gift!" Is it legal or illegal for the U.S. President to accept a gift like that? The emoluments cause makes it illegal for the President or other officials to accept gifts, unless Congress approves the gifts. It's illegal and the only way to make it legal is for Congress to approve the gift. Since Congress approved the Panama canal plan, it was legal for Panama to give land to the U.S.A., and the canal was built. A more recent example was during the Presidency of Donald Trump. Trump was well-known as a real estate developer, he had developed hotels and tourist resorts. He was trying to build a hotel in Russia, and the Russians would basically be doing him a favor if they let him build it, since the hotel is going to be built on Russian land, the Russians are essentially giving a piece of land to Trump so he can build his hotel, that's illegal under the emoluments clause, and Trump was actually served court papers for it, Trump was facing criminal charges, but eventually the case was dismissed so Trump was never actually prosecuted for a violation of the emoluments clause.

So, at the beginning of April, 2021, President Biden asked foreign countries to raise their corporate tax rates. He was asking foreign countries to do him a favor. He was begging them to raise their tax rates because that was the only way for him to finance his infrastructure bill. At the beginning of October, 2021, it was reported that the governments of 135 countries had raised their corporate tax rates. That would be 135 violations of the emoluments clause.

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