Senate Democrats Propose Good Infrastructure Bill, But Here’s How You Sell It

So the Democrats recently proposed a good infrastructure bill. Here are some of the highlights (boldface mine):

On Tuesday, Democrats led by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) unveiled a proposal to spend $1 trillion over the next 10 years to repair old bridges and roads, expand bus and rail systems, modernize ports, highways, airports, schools, grids, and much, much more. Unlike Trump’s plan, this would be accomplished through direct federal spending. The exact funding mechanisms are still unspecified, though in recent years, Democrats have rallied around corporate tax reform to pay for infrastructure…

The proposal — backed by Democratic Sens. Schumer, Tom Carper, Sherrod Brown, Bernie Sanders, Bill Nelson, Maria Cantwell, and Ron Wyden — steers away from new road construction and focuses more on repairing existing roads. It also has billions for transit, ports, the electric grid, and other projects. Here’s a more precise breakdown:

•$210 billion to “repair crumbling roads and bridges.” This would include an expansion of the Obama administration’s TIGER grants, which offered money to cities trying to solve key environmental issues via transportation.
•$110 billion to upgrade local water and sewer systems by providing local communities and taxpayers with federal grants, rather than loans.
•$180 billion to replace and expand existing rail and bus systems.
•$75 billion to rebuild schools (these projects are typically financed through local property taxes).
•$70 billion to “modernize America’s Ports, Airports, & Waterways.”
•$20 billion to expand high-speed broadband in unserved and underserved areas.
•$100 billion in new funding for energy infrastructure and grid modernization. This would also include reforming tax incentives for renewable energy. Also: “A permanent incentive would be given for electricity generation, transportation fuels, and energy efficiency improvements.”
•$200 billion for “a new Vital Infrastructure Projects program that will direct major federal investments to the most critical national projects.”
•$20 billion in funding to “address critical infrastructure backlogs on Public Lands and in Indian country.”
•$10 billion to “construct new Veterans Administration Hospitals & Extended Care Facilities for our nation’s heroes, and upgrade Army National Guard Readiness Centers.”
•$10 billion to “support the creation of New Innovative Financing tools aimed at unlocking private pools of capital and increasing infrastructure investment.”

It proposes the creation of a new infrastructure finance entity (“I-Bank”) that would unlock private pools of capital to provide low-cost loans or loan guarantees for infrastructure projects across a broad range of sectors, including transportation, energy, affordable housing, and water infrastructure.

…Schumer also said that Democrats “will not support tax credits for developers.” In other words, they’re happy to work with Trump — but on their terms, not his.

Clear and a lot more concise than what Clinton proposed. Importantly, it’s a lot larger as well. So this is good, but Democrats should point out every chance they get that Trump’s plan–which revolves around “$137 billion in tax breaks to private investors who want to finance toll roads, toll bridges, or other projects that generate their own revenue streams”–is nothing more than a “Toll Road Construction Act.” Why? People hate toll roads–even more than they do gasoline taxes. The other thing is to not worry about deficits: $100 billion per year isn’t a big deal compared to the gains we would get. Let Republicans worry about balancing budgets for a change (not that deficits per se should ever be a concern).

The Democratic plan is very good, now put some sizzle on that steak.

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