It would finance a broad range of projects from roads to broadband expansion.
Washington DC (KM) A proposal that would create more than 15-million jobs and rebuild the nation’s crumbling infrastructure was introduced last week. The “Blueprint to Rebuild America’s Infrastructure” is a $1-trillion investment to make repairs to the nation’s bridges and roads, fund clean energy projects, fix the nation’s aging schools and expand access to broadband.
Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md) says it could benefit a number of local projects. “I-270 is a parking lot. I-81, you’ve seen a lot of accidents on that road,” he says. “And then in western Maryland, everywhere I go, there’s a demand for more broadband connectivity, both in small businesses and in schools.”
In a statement, Van Hollen says the plan could expand operations at the Port of Baltimore, improve Metro and build the Purple Line.
The American Society of Civil Engineers gives the nation’s infrastructure a D +.
Van Hollen says it will set up an infrastructure bank and be paid for through changes in the tax laws. “I put forward proposals to pay for infrastructure modernization by closing a lot of the overseas tax breaks. Tax breaks that encourage American companies to move profits, to move jobs overseas,” he says.
Van Hollen acknowledges that this plan is similar to one which has been proposed by Congressman John Delaney (D-Md). He says there is some “overlap” in two proposals, and there’s also some “differences.” “Look, at the end of the day, there are ways to do this that both get us the investment that we need in modernizing our infrastructure, which also adds more good paying jobs to the economy, and ends some of these tax loopholes that have this have backwards incentive, backwards incentive of encouraging jobs to move overseas,” he says.
The Democrats hope the Republicans will join them in this effort to fix the nation’s infrastructure. “There are certainly a number of our Republican colleagues who want to move in this direction, but the leadership has blocked it,” says Van Hollen.
He also points out that President Trump supports repairing the nation’s infrastructure. “Since Donald Trump mentioned this as one of his big issues during the campaign and the night he won the election, what we’re saying is ‘hey, we’re glad that you’ve put something forward that we’ve been talking about for a long time. Here’s the blueprint that will help get it done. Let’s get it done,'” says Van Hollen.
“I think there’s a big public hunger and demand for this,” says Van Hollen. “In addition to meeting the need, it will also generate all that economic activity in terms of construction, whether it’s broadband, clean energy, transit, highways, roads, bridges. This is sort of an initiative for the 21st Century, and it’s overdue.”
By Kevin McManus