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Grassroots engagement reveals Americans aren’t buying Washington’s wasteful spending

Jul 15, 2021 by AFP

Logo for Americans for Prosperity's End Washington Waste: Stop the Spending Spree campaign

The White House has promised President Joe Biden’s $4 trillion “family” and physical infrastructure plans will create jobs, strengthen communities, and help the country “build back better.”

With a bipartisan deal on the table and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) insisting that a bill be on Senate floor by mid-July, policymakers are acting as if it is a foregone conclusion that the president will sign infrastructure legislation by Labor Day.

But Americans aren’t buying it. They see a different reality, and are increasingly worried about how a massive tax and spending plan will impact them.

  • Construction costs are “skyrocketing.”
  • Food prices rising at their fastest pace in 10 years.
  • A gallon of gas costs 40 percent more than last summer.

These are the realities Americans face today, and they know adding to the national debt could hasten already-rising inflation.

Americans for Prosperity’s “End Washington Waste: Stop the Spending Spree” campaign has helped individuals, families, and entrepreneurs give voice to their concerns.

Nashville, Tenn. (May 24, 2021) Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity, (left to right) speaks with event attendees during the End Washington Waste!! event at Bold Patriot Brewing Company in Nashville, Tenn. The event rallied voters to urge our elected officials to focus on smartly and effectively addressing our infrastructure needs without massive new spending and tax increases. (Stand Together Photo by Nathan Morgan)

Infrastructure debate has Americans frustrated, worried – but not without hope

Lawmakers are not weighing whether to spend at a time of rising inflation. They are debating how much.

  • President Joe Biden’s plan would cost $4 trillion, while Sen. Bernie Sanders’ would cost $3.5 trillion.
  • Less than 5 cents of every dollar in the $4 trillion spending plan would go to roads and bridges.
  • The package would increase taxes by more than $2.75 trillion.

As AFP has argued, the spending numbers are arbitrary and untethered to the nation’s physical infrastructure needs.

The "Infrastructure" Whole Hog sign detailing all the pork in the president's so-called infrastructure plan

Even the bipartisan deal revealed in late June is only the first step in a two-part dance to approve trillions in non-infrastructure spending and rewrite federal labor law.

This new spending, paid for through historic tax increases and by adding to the national debt, will financially burden already-struggling families and businesses.

In more than 350 Americans for Prosperity events around the country, parents, entrepreneurs, and workers have made it clear that they are not only skeptical about an infrastructure bill — they are fearful of it.

What frustrates people is that they know policymakers are being disingenuous. They know infrastructure is a means to drive an ideological agenda, What worries them is the sheer level of spending. They’re not economists, but they know it will drive inflation today and mean a greater portion of the federal budget will go to servicing the national debt tomorrow.”

– Americans for Prosperity President Tim Phillips

AFP President Tim Phillips speaks to activists at an End Washington Waste: Stop the Spending Spree event in Michigan

Detroit, Michigan. (May 19, 2021) Tim Phillips speaks to a crowd at Hess Hathaway Park in Waterford, Michigan. The event rallied voters to urge our elected officials to end Washington’s wasteful spending. (Stand Together Photo by Erik Jensen)

Constituents make their voices heard through AFP’s national grassroots network

In May, AFP committed to a seven-figure national grassroots campaign to give families and business owners a voice in the infrastructure debate.

After a year of virtual advocacy, “End Washington Waste: Stop the Spending Spree” will take Phillips to events in 27 congressional districts and 16 states.

“AFP has permanent staff in 35 states,” said Phillips. “Sometimes policymakers think their votes can go under the radar. We are able to shine a light on the issues and demonstrate that people are paying attention.”

  • AFP state and local chapters have executed door-to-door canvassing efforts, phonebanks, and events with partner organizations, elected officials, and policy experts.
  • They have carried out paid media efforts, targeted direct mail, and digital advertising.
  • The objective is to highlight how an ideological infrastructure program will affect workers, businesses, and families.

Americans have responded.

Hundreds of concerned voters have attended events and AFP’s efforts have so far generated more than 1 million letters to federal lawmakers. That number surpasses any other grassroots advocacy campaign in AFP history. More than 33,000 people have called their congressional offices, too.

Detroit-area activists rally to end Washington Waste and Stop the Spending Spree

Detroit, Mich. (May 19, 2021) Attendees gather for a group photo at an Americans For Prosperity End Washington Waste: Stop the Spending Spree event at Hess Hathaway Park in Waterford, Michigan. (Stand Together Photo by Erik Jensen)

Events are generating media attention, attracting new activists

Local media is paying attention. Georgia’s WRDW television station covered an AFP event in Augusta with U.S. Rep. Jody Hice. who said:

“[Americans are] just beginning to see a glimmer of hope, and here he comes with this bill that’s going to tax them so much more as they are trying to reestablish their own business.”

The Augusta event was one of three AFP-Georgia held in that state.

Rep. Jody Hines signs one of AFP's postcards to the president protesting wasteful Washington spending.

Augusta, Georgia. (July 8, 2021) Representative Jody Hice signs one of AFP’s postcards to the president at an End Washington Waste: Stop the Spending Spree event. AFP activists have been delivering similar postcards to their congressional lawmakers’ offices all summer.

In local and national media interviews, Phillips also has addressed the impact President Biden’s proposed corporate tax increase would have on U.S. businesses and families:

“People think of corporations as these huge conglomerates, but the vast majority of corporations in America are 20 to 30 employees. Little guys and gals and not big businesses. Jacking up their rates would hurt them as we try to get through this pandemic.”

The events are bringing previously unengaged citizens into the debate.

AFP-Georgia Grassroots Engagement Director Andrew Holt estimated about half of the crowds at that chapter’s events are new to grassroots advocacy. A local deputy sheriff who attended one event while on duty encouraged friends and family to get involved.

AFP-Georgia activists at an End Washington Waste: Stop the Spending Spree event

Sandy Springs, Georgia (June 11, 2021). AFP activists gather at Ray’s on the River to discuss how the president’s “infrastructure” package will result in higher taxes for Georgians.

Annette Olson, AFP-Wisconsin deputy state director, said that state chapter has used its events to spotlight local entrepreneurs, including two female business owners who provided baked goods for audiences. The women discussed how the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, which Biden has said should be included in an infrastructure package, would harm their growing businesses.

AFP-Pennsylvania State Director Ashley Klingensmith said she also has met several newly engaged voters. In addition to rallies, that chapter has brought residents to the doorsteps of lawmakers’ offices through virtual and in-person meetings.

Klingensmith noted this type of engagement was successful in getting two of Pennsylvania’s U.S. representatives to oppose the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act — another massive spending bill — in the spring of 2020.

AFP activists display their "Pull the Pork" and "End Washington Waste" signs at a rally in Pennsylvania

Wysox, Penn. (July 12, 2021). Attendees display their “Pull the Pork” and “End Washington Waste” signs at one of the 350 events (including phonebanking) AFP has held in more than 30 states to speak out against Washington’s wasteful spending.

Offering a better path forward

Overregulation, not lack of spending, is one thing stopping Americans from being able to improve infrastructure. (This AFP-Pennsylvania video explains how red tape impacts how long it takes to build).

These nationwide events rally people not only to oppose the president’s current “infrastructure” proposal, but to offer a better solution.

It is possible to rebuild the U.S. economy, improve infrastructure, empower families, and address other critical needs without massive tax increases and trillions in new spending.

While smart tax policy and  pro-worker reforms will empower individuals, families, and businesses, lawmakers who want to rebuild physical infrastructure should:

  • Preserve federal dollars for targeted construction projects of a national priority.
  • End the practice of spending gas tax revenues on non-highway projects.
  • Unleash private investment in infrastructure assets.
  • Return power and responsibility to the states wherever possible.
  • Overhaul the regulatory and permitting system to modernize infrastructure reviews and reduce project costs.
  • Eliminate costly and unfair labor restrictions.

Progress is most readily achieved when it’s generated at the local level,” said Phillips. “A giant grab bag of partisan policies won’t rebuild America. But freeing up people to innovate and pursue their dreams will.”

Click here to End Washington Waste and Stop the Spending Spree

Want to make your voice heard? Visit StopTheSpendingSpree.com to learn more and send a letter to your lawmakers.