WASHINGTON ― Progressive members of Congress on Thursday unveiled their own plan to overhaul the nation’s crumbling roads, bridges and waterways ― an ambitious proposal that dwarfs plans offered both by President Donald Trump and Senate Democrats.
The so-called “21st Century New Deal for Jobs” invests $2 trillion over the next 10 years to make badly needed repairs to the nation’s transportation, water, energy and information systems. It contains several progressive priorities, including the use of Davis-Bacon prevailing wage standards, maintenance of racial and gender equity in hiring, focus on low-income communities and carbon-free energy production.
Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), who spearheaded the effort, said the plan would employ 2.5 million Americans in its first year.
“This is how we take our country back. This is how we do job creation,” he said at a press conference organized by the Congressional Progressive Caucus on Capitol Hill.
Unlike Trump’s $1 trillion infrastructure plan, which prioritizes tax incentives to fund infrastructure projects by a 5-1 margin, the progressive initiative relies directly on public investment. The CPC says it would be paid by the closing of unspecified corporate tax loopholes, a new tax on Wall Street transactions, and by repatriating funds held by U.S. companies overseas.
While Trump has yet to release his promised infrastructure plan, its broad outlines look very different from the wish list offered by progressives. The president’s proposal is said to include only $200 billion in public spending. The remainder of the initiative is said to rely on private tax incentives meant to spur investment in infrastructure projects. Such funding mechanisms, known as public-private partnerships, often involve privately financed toll roads.
Deficit-averse Republicans in Congress are unlikely to consider a big spending proposal. The progressive infrastructure effort, rather, attempts to offer a clear contrast between Democratic and Republican policies ahead of the 2018 midterm election.
“President Trump has suggested that he will address the infrastructure gap. His ideas, however, are insufficient. They are riddled with fancy and unnecessary gimmicks, and laced with tax breaks for his wealthy friends,” the CPC says. “We cannot afford to accept a plan like this that helps Wall Street investors, but leaves ordinary Americans behind.”