John O’Connor

I see President Biden has just unveiled a $2 trillion (yes, trillion) spending plan.

In case you are wondering what $2 trillion buys these days, here’s one apparent answer: An infrastructure and climate change package, plus an assortment of domestic sweeteners. The latter includes bridge and road repairs, expanding broadband internet — and free community college for all.

To be sure, these are nice and in some cases necessary upgrades. But at some point, won’t they need to be paid for?

The answer to that annoying question comes from newly elected leaders known for constantly decrying class warfare: Soak the rich and corporations.

To which I can only reply: Good luck with that.

An understaffed Internal Revenue Service is going to extract more money from a social and business class that hires the best available legal and accounting talent for the express purpose of avoiding taxes? Gee, I wonder if some new schemes and loopholes might be found?

To be fair, the Democrats now in charge hardly hold a monopoly on the credit card lifestyle. As we saw last year when Republicans were running things, the notion of trillion dollar-plus spending sprees is not exactly a new concept.

It’s self-evident that both sides like to wear the Santa suit. And who can blame them? There’s surely more to be gained by giving than taking away, especially when elections roll around.

But considering all the largesse making the rounds lately, it’s hard to believe how parsimonious the same folks remain when it comes to adequately funding long-term care services.

As I noted in last week’s column, the current system for payments and oversight is little more than a charade. In a more perfect world, reimbursement for long-term care services would be much improved. As would the general quality of said services.

But back to the issue at hand: There seems to be more than a little irony involved in the way various causes are being prioritized lately. And just to be clear, I have no issue with repairing bridges and other parts of our nation’s crumbling infrastructure. (Although it might be fair to ask why things were allowed to fall into such a state of disrepair in the first place.)

It does seem strange that while MedPAC et. al. repeatedly insist that public funding for long-term care is excessive, the sky seems to be the limit for less worthy pursuits.

Look, I’m all for faster internet service, repaired bridges and smoother roads. Who isn’t? But what about properly taking care of the frail and vulnerable elderly among us?

We should never prioritize taking care of things ahead of people. Doing so is not simply unwise. It undermines our humanity.

John O’Connor is Editorial Director for McKnight’s.