WASHINGTON ― Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) unveiled her plan to fix the nation’s crumbling roads, bridges and waterways on Thursday. Her plan also seeks to address the lack of internet access in rural areas and the growing threat of a changing climate.
The $1 trillion proposal includes $650 billion in direct federal funding to overhaul aging infrastructure, which the senator’s campaign called her “top budget priority” if she’s elected to the White House in 2020. The remaining investment, according to the plan, would be attained by leveraging federal funds via public-private partnerships, Obama-era bond programs and clean energy tax incentives.
Klobuchar says the money is badly needed to repair roads, highways and over 50,000 structurally deficient bridges in the United States. The senator announced her bid for president earlier this year in Minnesota near the Interstate 35W bridge, which collapsed into the Mississippi River in 2007 and left 13 people dead.
“America needs someone who will deliver on their promises and get things done for this country,” Klobuchar said in a statement. “Building bridges is not just a metaphor ― this is what I’ve done and what I will continue to do as President.”
Klobuchar’s campaign said revenue from the rollback of some of Donald Trump’s corporate tax cuts would pay for the plan, as would closing “loopholes that encourage U.S. companies to move jobs and operations overseas,” establishing “a financial risk fee on our largest banks” and increasing tax enforcement.
Most 2020 Democratic contenders have proposed rolling back all or some part of the GOP tax cuts to pay for a bevy of programs, including “Medicare for all” and investments in child care, green energy and affordable housing.
“I do care about the debt, yet I think we need to move forward as a country,” Klobuchar said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Thursday of financing her infrastructure plan.
Klobuchar’s proposal notably does not call for an increase in the federal gas tax, which hasn’t been lifted since 1993 from 18.4 cents per gallon. Although many House Democrats and labor groups like the AFL-CIO support the idea, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), another 2020 Democratic contender, recently expressed concern that a gas tax hike “falls hardest on working people.”
A spokesperson for Klobuchar’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for more information regarding her stance on lifting the gas tax.
During her interview on MSNBC, Klobuchar called Trump’s stalled infrastructure proposal a “mirage” that fell far short of his lofty campaign promise to usher in an era of national renewal not seen since the days of President Dwight Eisenhower. While the president’s plan called for only $200 billion in direct federal spending, it relies on mechanisms similar to those in Klobuchar’s plan to attract private financing of infrastructure projects.
Trump administration officials have recently said they’d like to tackle infrastructure in the next two years. There at least appears to be some bipartisan agreement on the issue, but there’s been very little action so far on Capitol Hill. Trump instead told GOP lawmakers this week that he’d like them to take another shot at repealing the Affordable Care Act. House Democrats, meanwhile, say they’re hoping to vote on a bill to fix the nation’s crumbling roads and bridges later this year.
Klobuchar’s plan also pledges to connect “every U.S. household to the internet by 2022,” make investments to public transportation, fix crumbling schools, and boost renewable energy development and drinking and wastewater systems.