6 ways the Senate Democrats' infrastructure plan will work better than President Trump's
The Trump White House previewed part of their infrastructure, and Senate Democrats have countered with a plan on its own.
While we don't know exactly what the administration is planning, during the campaign they offered an overview of a plan that focused on tax breaks for private developers. Over the last few days, a list of possible projects was leaked which appear to be at odds with that earlier overview.
Fair Share supports investing in infrastructure, prioritizing repair, maintenance, long-term sustainability and expanding access to economic opportunities. Here are six reasons why we think the Senate plan will deliver better results for people:
1. It includes investments targeted at expanding access to opportunity. We believe that our infrastructure invests should be done in a such a way that more people can connect to the opportunities in our economy. The Senate Democrats plan would devote $20 billion to making sure that everyone can access high-speed internet, which can help provide new opportunities in tech fields, especially in rural areas. They also invest in modernizing schools, and connecting struggling areas to job opportunities. The Trump plan does not make similar investments, in part because it relies on public private partnerships which are very unlikely to be set up in places of greatest need.
2. It paves the way for more clean energy. Solar and wind power, and energy efficiency are creating new jobs while cutting back on pollution and helping transition from the decline of coal. The Senate Democrats plan allocates $100 billion to improve transmission, storage and improve incentives. The original Trump policy doesn't mention clean energy, while the leaked possible project list includes 3 projects for a total of $10.5 billion.
3. It pays for itself by making the corporate tax code more fair. Currently, our tax laws allow multinational companies to hide their profits offshore and "defer" U.S. taxes indefinitely. It's estimated closing this loophole and making those companies pay what they owe would raise $718 billion immediately, and $100 billion each year moving forward. Not only would closing loopholes fund all these critical investments in infrastructure, it evens the playing field for smaller local businesses, which don't set up tax shelters in the Cayman Islands but have to compete against other businesses playing by different rules. The Trump plan does not provide a way to pay for itself and therefore would add to the deficit.
4. It avoids privatization boondoggles. The most troubling part of the Trump plan is the reliance on privatization to create infrastructure improvements. These privatization deals tend to be great for the private company and bad for the taxpayer. These deals have historically guaranteed profits to a private company, while losses get put on the backs of taxpayers. This isn't how you drain the swamp. The other problem with tax incentives as the main mechanism is that it would only work for new projects. We think the priority must be on fixing broken roads, bridges, public transit systems and water infrastructure. Also, private partnerships will focus on places with an already strong economy, leaving struggling areas further behind.
5. It invests in greener, more accessible forms of transportation. People, particularly millennials and seniors, want to see more alternative transportation -- from train and bus service to walkable towns and bike lanes. Public transit ridership has grown 37% over the last 20 years, but repairs have not kept up. The Senate democrats help fix and expand clean, efficient public transportation. There are several projects on the leaked administration project list that would also meet this goal, though, again, we are unsure how committed to that list of projects the administration is.
6. It's focused on repair and maintenance. It is unclear how much the final Trump plan will focus on repair and maintenance, as this is one of the main conflicts in the released plan, and the leaked project list. This is important, as far too much of our federal transportation and infrastructure funding has gone toward new projects, many of which were unnecessary -- including the famous bridge to nowhere. While it's possible that the final Trump plan will take that into account, the Senate democrats plan clearly has it as a focus. It's time we fix problems like lead in drinking water and dangerous bridges, and not invest in more sprawl.