With a $1 trillion infrastructure plan unveiled Tuesday, Senate Democrats and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) are offering President Donald Trump an opportunity to make good on a major campaign promise—without giving away billions to private corporations in the process.
The sweeping proposal (pdf), which proponents claim would create 15 million jobs, focuses on repairing the nation's "crumbling roads and bridges," upgrading local water and sewer systems, replacing and expanding existing rail and bus systems, rebuilding schools, and expanding high-speed broadband in unserved and underserved areas, among other priorities. The plan would reportedly "rely on direct federal spending," as the Washington Post reports, and be paid for by closing unspecified tax loopholes.
The blueprint lays down the gauntlet to both Trump—who campaigned on a promise to implement such an infrastructure program, but whose plan for doing so amounts to what former Labor Secretary Robert Reich calls "a giant public subsidy to developers and investors"—and congressional Republicans, who have resisted attempts to allocate federal dollars to such national improvement projects.
The Post reports:
Eager to drive a wedge between the new president and congressional Republicans, Democrats consider talk of infrastructure projects as a way to piggyback on Trump's frequent vows to repair the nation's crumbling roads and bridges and persuade him to adopt ideas that would put him at odds with GOP leaders, who have done little to embrace what would amount to a major new government spending program.
Advisers to Trump have said they would rely on federal tax credits and public-private partnerships rather than federal spending to pay for a new infrastructure program.
But Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) told reporters on Tuesday: "We will not support tax credits for developers."
"In other words, they're happy to work with Trump—but on their terms, not his," Vox wrote.
As Sanders declared in a statement: "President Trump campaigned on rebuilding the infrastructure. Let's do it, but let's do it in a way that does not provide huge tax breaks to the wealthiest people in this country and to the largest corporations."
For Reich, "the only way we get that is if corporations and the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes." Troublingly, Trump spent Monday and Tuesday telling business executives that "massive" corporate tax cuts were on the horizon.
Here, Reich explains what's wrong with Trump's plan:
In Trump's "private-public" partnerships, private investors get rich and the public gets shafted. https://t.co/SAZ2tNqqyC
— Robert Reich (@RBReich) January 20, 2017