Offering an ambitious alternative to President Donald Trump's "climate-wrecking" infrastructure plan—which would be paid for by enacting deep budget cuts and dumping most of the costs onto state and local governments—Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Senate Democrats on Wednesday unveiled a $1 trillion infrastructure blueprint that would be funded by rolling back the GOP's tax cuts for the rich and closing loopholes exploited by Wall Street billionaires.
"Under the Democrats' plan, Wall Street billionaires will be asked to help pay for improving our nation's roads, bridges, and tunnels, instead of lining their pockets through privatized Trump Tolls."
—Frank Clemente, Americans for Tax Fairness
"Unfortunately, the Trump plan is a sham. It is a fraud," Sanders said in a statement. "The fact of the matter is that the American people understand, whether they are Republican, Democrat, progressive, or conservative, that in the wealthiest nation in the history of the world, we are now falling further and further behind many other countries. Now is the time to rebuild America."
In contrast to Trump's proposal, which is built on the hope that just $200 billion in federal funds will spur $1.3 trillion in "investments" from states and private companies, the Democrats' blueprint (pdf) proposes using federal funds to rebuild roads, bridges, schools, and water infrastructure—then offsetting the costs by hiking the corporate tax rate to 25 percent, restoring the top marginal rate of 39.6 percent, and closing the carried interest loophole.
"Under the Democrats' plan, Wall Street billionaires will be asked to help pay for improving our nation's roads, bridges, and tunnels, instead of lining their pockets through privatized Trump Tolls, as they would under the president's ill-conceived and underfunded infrastructure scheme," Frank Clemente, executive director of Americans for Tax Fairness, said in a statement endorsing the blueprint on Wednesday. "Making the rich and corporations pay their fair share means we will be able to rebuild our communities from the ground up."
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Specifically, the Democrats' blueprint calls for:
- $140 billion for roads and bridges;
- $115 billion to "modernize America's water and sewer systems";
- $115 billion to repair public transportation;
- $50 billion to "modernize America's rail infrastructure";
- $62 billion to expand public housing; and
- $50 billion to repair public schools.
Democratic leaders project that their trillion-dollar injection of federal funds into infrastructure projects nationwide would create around "15 million good-paying jobs" without slashing federal programs or gutting environmental regulations that protect Americans' water supply.
Food & Water Watch (FWW), one of the many advocacy groups that fiercely denounced Trump's infrastructure plan when it was released earlier this month, was quick to praise the Democrats' proposal for offering "strong support to our aging and unaffordable water systems and recogniz[ing] that privatizing our water systems offers no solution."
"The Senate Democrat proposal provides real federal funding to the tried-and-true Drinking Water and Clean Water State Revolving Fund programs and USDA's rural water grant program," Mary Grant, Water for All campaign director at FWW, said in a statement on Wednesday. "The Trump administration's budget proposes eliminating rural water grants altogether, and the Trump administration's infrastructure blueprint would seek to hand our water systems over to Wall Street."