Alex Gimarc: Infrastructure bill and the Alaska delegation

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By ALEX GIMARC

President Biden signed the infrastructure bill on Tuesday, surrounded by gleeful Congress critters, including Alaska’s very own Congressman Don Young. 

While the entire Alaska delegation voted in favor of the bill, I want to focus on the pair that is up for reelection next year, Lisa Murkowski and Don Young.  Both incumbents posted glowing press releases touting their support for the massive piece of legislation.  

While there are many infuriating provisions in the bill, for me the worst is funding for broadband internet in the Bush.  This is Alaskan Delegation pork at its worst.  Rural broadband is going live worldwide next year via Elon Musk’s Starlink.  The only thing federal broadband money will end up doing is being recycled back into campaign donations for people who supported it, in this case, Lisa and Don, which may be the point.

We have come to the point in our state history that Lisa and Don have focused on little more than the amount of free money they can appropriate for Alaska. Every single other policy issue is either ignored or traded away in return for a bit more cash.  You would think with a 50-50 split in the U.S. Senate and a 5-seat Democrat majority in the House, Lisa and Don would be able to leverage their power a little better. Sadly, as long as Lisa can prattle on about renewables and Don can support his union buds, there is no interest whatsoever in using that power to pursue anything other than their personal unicorns and other shiny objects.  

So, what else was in the infrastructure bill?  The text of the bill can be found at this link.  It is quite long and complex.  An in that length and complexity, you can bury a lot of ugliness.  Sean Moran writing in Breitbart did a pretty decent review over the weekend.  Also important is what was NOT in the bill.  We’ll talk about that a bit also.

  • There is no funding for a border wall with Mexico.  Given unvaxxed illegals flooding across the Mexican border, some of whom end up here in Alaska, you would think Lisa and Don would care.  There is more money for processing of the 2 million illegals who crossed the border in 2021.  
  • Now that the Biden administration has figured out that all they have to do to shut down a pipeline, any pipeline, is to pull its operating or environmental permits, you would suspect that TAPS is now at risk.  While there is language ordering a study of the cancellation of Keystone XL, there is no order to restore its permits.  No removal of the ability of this administration to pull permits on a whim.
  • There is a mandate to install DUI breathalyzers in all vehicles by the 2026 model year.  You don’t blow, you don’t go.  There are a lot of other ways to drive under the influence than alcohol these days (marijuana, drugs, prescription drugs, etc).
  • There is funding for a pilot program to figure out how to tax people based on the number of miles drive.
  • It contains a provision to allow federal agencies to bypass “buy American” rules if they think it will increase costs.  Sounds like a payoff to the CCP to me.
  • It includes a provision to start regulating crypto currencies as a payoff to existing Wall Street investment houses and bankers.
  • Broadband money will be doled out based on race and ethnicity, with rural whites sitting in the back of this particular bus.
  • While there is money for roads and bridges here in Alaska, there is no money for either a Knik or Turnagain Arm bridge.  

The bill has been variously described as Green new Deal Lite with all the attendant electric vehicle, zero emissions, and carbon reduction provisions.  It also appears to ensconce into federal law the underpinnings of CRT, using the word “equity” at least 64 times.  

Despite Lisa and Don’s victory lap, this is a pretty ugly piece of legislation, one that they are proud of. Governance as a simple money grab is not doing Alaska any favors. From here, it is long past time to install people in office with other priorities. Our opportunity to do that is next year.  It’s time to take it.

Alex Gimarc lives in Anchorage since retiring from the military in 1997. His interests include science and technology, environment, energy, economics, military affairs, fishing and disabilities policies. His weekly column “Interesting Items” is a summary of news stories with substantive Alaska-themed topics. He was a small business owner and Information Technology professional.

39 COMMENTS

  1. Alex- You said it well about where the money is really (not) going. Lining their pockets and campaigns and hoping that they look good to the liberal villages that think they got them broadband, even though it is already on its way. I know the money will help the ports and ferries and roads across our state. The Knik bridge is a dead deal and has been from the get-go. Its not feasible, economical or practical in Alaska.
    I do hope that this does shine light to Alaska on who is really making Alaska great, It isn’t these clowns in office at this time. Lets hope for new blood!

  2. You just can’t unsee a picture like that. Alaska is getting a bad rap, because of these three people. We must do better!
    We and the nation deserve better!

  3. Congratulations, Alaskan voters, for having elected — and for CONTINUING to elect — three consummate swamp creatures. For EVERY voter who has voted for any one, or all. of these destroyers of our country, YOU and your votes are part of what is destroying this country.

    • In order to get them out of office we need 3 things;
      1) Viable young candidates that believe in the Constitution and will run like Trump on specific promises to the people. If not kept, goodbye. They need to support term limits legislation.
      2) Measure 2 needs to be repealed
      3) Alaska needs a full forensic audit of the 2020 election before Sept. 2022 in order to weed out problems in our elections system.

      Do not give Sullivan a pass here. He also supported this monstrosity.

  4. Several problems here.
    1) Mr. Gimarc still thinks a southern border wall will stop immigration. It hasn’t and it won’t. This would be pouring money down a hole.
    2) Oil is on the way out. Keystone probably wouldn’t happen even if the permits are issued. Basically, a non-issue. The sooner Alaskans realize that oil won’t be their savior ever again, the sooner they can enter the 21st Century.
    3) Sure there are other ways to drive impaired, but drinking is the big Numero Uno, so how is putting breathalyzers on vehicles a bad thing?
    4) I fail to understand how taxing people for the miles they drive is different from a gas tax. You drive, you buy gas, you pay a tax on the gas. If you have a guzzler, you pay a bit more. If you have a sipper, you pay a bit less.
    5) If you are stuck in a “buy American” rut, especially if that rut is a monopoly, you’ll will pay more, likely way more. The economy is now global. It’s not going back. I love buying American and try to do so as much as possible, but I still am looking for an American made TV. And stereo receiver. And a lot of the cars running around out there with American names like Ford are made in Mexico or Canada, or both. Plus, my Honda was made in this country, except for the transmission. Sure, some are made by American based companies, but look at the label and you will find out where they really come from.
    6) Regulating cryptocurrencies? Sounds like a great idea to me. It’s the wild west out there right now.
    7) Broadband money will bring the Native villages into, say, the 20th Century. This might sound like a racist comment, but there are white folks who live out there, too.
    8) There’s probably not enough money anywhere to build the huge, white elephant bridges proposed for Turnagain and Knik Arms, and let’s not forget the fast ferry terminal moldering at McKenzie Point, nor the rail line to nowhere, which would have benefitted only about one person, also going to the Point. There are reasons these projects don’t come to fruition, probably because Alaska can’t keep its current stable of roads and bridges in good condition.
    There will always be pork in legislation like this, some of it likely coming to Alaska, but overall this is a good bill for Alaska and for the infrastructure in the country as a whole. It’s a mixed bag, but it’s a bag we can use.
    Now, if we could just roll back the 2017 Tax Reform bill that grandly benefitted the top 1% of corporations and rich people, we’d be able to pay this thing off in no time.

    • Hahaha! You just spout off nonsense based solely on your opinion.
      Border wall won’t stop immigration?! It will surely bring it down to a level much lower than what we’ve witnessed this past year. The highest it’s been in 30 years 🤔
      But you’re right it won’t stop it completely.
      Seems to me you don’t mind getting bent over and taking it from behind from our government. Pretty sure you’re one of a few!

    • in response:

      1. Border wall stopped immigration for a couple years under Trump. Halting it invited everyone south of the border north, 2 million this year. Your position is simply not to try to stop the influx?
      2. Oil and CTLs will be with us for a long time, at least a century. Keystone was under construction. Line 5 in N WI / MI is next up to get shut down. Once the Bidens figure out how to do this, where do they stop? Are you willing to take that chance with TAPS?
      3. Federally mandated breathlyzers are unconstitutional, which is by definition a Bad Thing.
      4. Taxing people on miles driven means the government at some level gets to sit in your vehicle with you and monitor your progress or lack thereof. There was time that privacy was celebrated by the left. Apparently no longer.
      5. Correct on Buy American and the worldwide marketplace right up to the point where it empowers our sworn enemy the Chinese CCP. Surely there is a way to do this without making them stronger.
      6. Sadly, regulation has become a pay to play protection racket. Don’t we have enough of those already? Why subject crypto to that unless you support payoffs?
      7. You miss the point. Broadband in rural AK goes live privately statewide next year, without a single dime from either the Delegation or Uncle Sugar. This is corruption on the most basic level.
      8. BS. Knik and Turnagain Arm bridges pencil out at amount $1.5 – 2 B apiece for a toll road. Ted had the money appropriated in 2008 for Knik until Sarah stole it. And there’s more than enough money in the bill for that.

      But thanks for playing. Cheers –

        • The left of the 1980s:
          Loved Russia
          Hated the CIA
          Ignored China
          Fought Big Corporate
          Defended the Working Class
          Lobbied for strong borders to protect the wage base and low skilled American workers
          Enshrined Freedom of speech

          The left of today:
          Hates Russia
          Loves the CIA
          Owned by China
          Partners with Big Corporate
          Ignores the Working Class
          Lobbies for NO border and could care less about wages Or unemployment
          Despises Free Speech

          Funny how times change..

    • “…….Mr. Gimarc still thinks a southern border wall will stop immigration. It hasn’t and it won’t. This would be pouring money down a hole……..”
      If you have a better idea, let’s hear it. Fences/walls remain the most basic and first step to perimeter security. It always has been, and it always will be.

      • The solution is to make it so immigrants don’t want to come flee their home countries. Almost all of the southern border immigration is people leaving Trump’s sh*thole countries. If we could find a way to improve living conditions in those countries, the people who live there wouldn’t be motivated to leave.
        But nobody is trying to do that.

  5. There is no guarantee any of this crap will ever make it to Alaska. Those two trolls sold our future for vapor. But they did please their socialist handlers.

    Do NOT give swampy Dan a pass. He drones on about his relationship with the Princess. He will, given time, screw us every bit as bad as she has.

    Is there anything more useless than an Alaska Republican?

  6. Most people think that the only reactions to danger are fight or flight. There’s a third reaction, even more common, but not generally acknowledged, that being paralysis.
    The fight or flight reaction can happen only when there is a clear and present danger. Paralysis happens when the danger is obscure, distant, or not immediate.
    The dangers within the infrastructure bill are obscure, distant, and not immediate. All the warnings in the world will only fall on deaf ears because paralysis effects the whole system. Movement, eyesight, hearing … the entire sensory system. The frog in a pot of water slowly brought up to boiling is apt.
    No matter how wrong he may have been in his 50 some years in public office, Biden is consistent. He can be relied on to eventually target TAPS. Everything he’s done in his first 10 months is slowly beginning to focus on TAPS.
    Here’s the great danger is he does. Just as He decided, for political grandstanding, to pull out of Afghanistan, without preparation, nor even giving our allies a heads up, he will find himself in a political bind, seemingly trapped into doing something dramatic.
    What could be more dramatic, a bigger display of his most cherished illusion of power, his personal sense of having control of his destiny, than decreeing shutting down TAPS?
    Plans for TAPS eventual shutdown have been in place even before it was built. It centers on first filling it with lighter condensates, lighter grades of liquids which won’t jell into semi-solids. This will allow time for a sequential disassembly.
    Biden, more likely than not, will simply feel under pressure to do something, anything, so that he will decree an immediate stop to the pumps. This will leave 800 miles of hot crude to cool and jell into roofing tar. TAPS cannot be restarted from that. Each and every section, every few feet, will have to be cut and cleaned out by hand. It will become an 800 mile super-fund site.
    It will also be the very last large-diameter pipeline built in the US for decades to come. The major oil companies are already getting set to pull all major operations out of the US. Biden will drop the last straw on the camel’s back.
    Our paralysis will guarantee it happening. It’s our nature, our habit and practice.

  7. I must sadly agree with Mr Gimarc’s observations. I have supported Don “the Dean of the House” for many, many years but the time has come for new leadership. Don has done much for Alaska but there are some issues/facts that none of us can change and to be blind to them and their repercussions would be pure folly. I believe most of us see the logical new choice.
    Thank you so much Don for all your yrs of service but it is time to pass the mantle. As I remember back to what my Dad would have said, “you did good!” That my friends was high praise.
    As for Lisa, what can you say? Self inflicted wounds.

  8. The longer politicians stay in office, the more they help confuse their constituents. Pork or Cork? Which is it it? Money brought into Alaska, or, capping the flow of spending? Pork is what Don Young and Lisa Murkowski uphold as their successes. With over 90-years of federal office holding between the Young’s and the Murkowskis’, Alaska is ready for some newcomers who can put a cork on spending. With our national debt, inflation, employment health, border security, and military readiness all in question, we should recognize that Murkowski and Young have little to offer except the Pork that ultimately feeds a heart attack for Americans.
    .
    Kelly T. for US Senate, and hopefully some reasonable, mature, Conservative like Michael Tavoliero for US Congress.

  9. I must agree. Focusing on larger projects like the knik arm bridge, roads and the rail system would have been better, now when is it going to happen? This is laden with worthless pork to the gills. Electric vehicles are a great idea but shoving it down throats is a wrong approach, they just haven’t evolved to the point of being economical. Right now, oil is boss and when the economy goes south I guarantee, subsidized transportation wont be moving at all.

  10. No funding for the Port of Anchorage??? Lisa, Dan and Don dropped the ball here. It’s probably the most pressing need for the state as a whole….here’s hoping I am wrong.

  11. We haven’t seen anything yet.
    .
    Got any idea who’ll get stiffed (and who won’t get stiffed) with double-digit income and sales taxes to pay for this garbage when the honeymoon’s over?
    .
    Got any idea what’s coming when Biden Inc. figures out how to tie vaccine mandates to multi-trillion dollar giveaways?

  12. We Alaskan need all new representation in Washington DC, our current elected officials are to instep with the DC sewer.

  13. Perfect picture of the three traitors to our Republic from Alaska. Alaska, when will you wake up? We need to petition the Governor for a full forensic audit of our State to correct problems and fraud within our elections. We also need young America First Republicans to rise up and remove these RINOS.

  14. The nearly completed Keystone pipeline would have required 30 workers to maintain operational flow.Now Canadians have to use truckers and railroads creating hundereds of American jobs. Does Alex really want to sacrifice American jobs for Canadian oil company profits?

    • Keystone XL was shut down on environmental grounds. Sending the oil south via truck & train is less environmentally safe, more prone to accidents and spills. Pipelines are also the cleanest and most efficient way to ship liquids like oil. So, shutting it down only increases cost to everyone.

      Your logic that shutting down pipeline construction is a jobs program is laughable. It is similar to allowing rioters to burn portions of cities because there are jobs to be had building it back (better). But thanks for playing. Cheers –

  15. Don Young is a total sell-out to Biden and Pelosi. A traitor! Kissing the a$$es of union bosses and pretending to be a champion of bringing home some bacon. A phoney old man who needs to go to the old folk’s home. Crooked and corrupt to the core. A mobster!

    • Thomas, have courage my fellow Alaskan. We’ve heard you and others loud and clear. Liberty and Freedom should trump any law or debt ridden bill.
      Vote 3rd party
      It’s time

  16. I liked your last article better about being a strong modern day woman. Definitely more your cup of tea. This one seemed cut and pasted. Thanks Alex

  17. It is totally embarrassing to see that picture of Congressman Young dancing in the conga line of miscreants supporting passage of the Infrastructure Bill. A photo op of a ‘useful idiot’ for the democrats, indeed. At least Lisa had the sense to duck that fiasco. Being a RINO does have some limits, you know.

    We also see Dan Sullivan wandering into RINO game preserve by adhering to the time tested ‘bring home the bacon’ caper. Never mind supporting a huge spending bill that is merely a payback to democrat interest groups. Never mind that this bill significantly ratchets up the national debt at a time we face the highest inflation in decades. Never mind that we are finding all sorts of nefarious goodies buried in the thousand page spending rampage. It’s a democrat sponsored bill, right? Dan Sullivan has permanently tarnished his claim to being a true conservative. He will be finding that out as he mingles with Alaskans and discovers that trust in his judgment took a serious hit.

  18. Federal overreach and national debt servitude has crippled US. Cronyism has diluted our voices. Sell out to special interests overrides the will of the people.

    Don’s been infected. Begiech won’t be any better.

    Stand up for Freedom and Liberty vote 3rd party.

    It’s time Alaska

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