Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar announced a “bold, trillion-dollar plan” Thursday to address a litany of infrastructure issues that she plans to make her “top budget priority,” should she be elected president in 2020.
“This responds to what we’re seeing all over our nation: crumbling infrastructure, you see people in traffic jams, and really there’s been no major investment for years,” Klobuchar said in an interview with CNN’s Suzanne Malveaux.
The plan, she said, included a number of bipartisan ideas to finance it.
She continued: “I’ve put together a plan that is paid for. It’s not just a mirage. The President keeps talking about infrastructure, but he really hasn’t put the money down that you’d need… I believe we can get this done, and it’s my number one priority.”
The plan, rolled out in an early morning Medium post, says its aim is to “rebuild America’s infrastructure, invest in our future, and create millions of good-paying American jobs.” It calls for major federal investments in seven areas, including transportation, broadband connection, public schools and clean energy.
According to the post, the Democratic presidential candidate’s proposed plan would largely be paid for through a “series of corporate tax reforms,” including an increase in the corporate tax rate to 25%, the closing of loopholes “that encourage US companies to move jobs and operations overseas” and the establishment of “a financial risk fee” on the nation’s largest banks.
Speaking to CNN, Klobuchar explained that she wanted to raise the corporate tax up to 25% from the 21% rate that resulted from the 2017 GOP tax bill. Previously, the tax rate had been at 35%.
“It went all the way down to 21%, and every point is $100 billion. So that’s a big chunk of the funding,” she said.
Klobuchar continued, “Then the way they structured [the tax cuts] for jobs overseas and money overseas, that also can be changed, and that brings in $150 billion. And there’s a number of things, including better enforcement of our tax laws that can bring in the money. Then also some novel approaches with an infrastructure financing authority, public-private money, as well as transportation bonds.”
Pressed on Republicans’ willingness to reverse course on the tax cuts passed in late 2017 – among the signature legislative achievements of the Republican majority under the Trump administration – Klobuchar said simply, “I think they will do it, things change. And the Congress is going to change. The Senate will change, presumably, in the next election.”
Asked by CNN’s Chris Cuomo on “Cuomo Prime Time” Thursday why she had chosen to lead with this topic, Klobuchar described infrastructure as a “bread and butter issue.”
“It means jobs, but it also means getting ourselves out of traffic jams and getting our goods to market,” Klobuchar said.
The seven-point proposal places a tight focus on the country’s transportation system, which Klobuchar says she plans to turn into a “world-class” system that will better serve low-income communities and communities of color. It calls for the repairing and replacing of roads, highways and bridges, as well as an expansion of public transportation and the creation of high-speed rail systems.
The plan also aims to connect every American household to the internet by 2022, with Klobuchar writing that access to broadband “creates jobs, opens new economic opportunities, and allows America to compete and succeed in an increasingly digital world.”
The proposal also says as president, Klobuchar will address the nation’s “crumbling and unsafe schools” by “(updating) the physical and digital infrastructure needs of our schools, and (establishing) an ongoing role for the federal government to invest in school infrastructure.”
The trillion-dollar plan also places an emphasis on climate change and the country’s reliance on fossil fuels, with Klobuchar calling for “sweeping legislation” that, among other things, “invests in green infrastructure, modernizes our aging energy infrastructure” and invests in “renewable energy development.”
Klobuchar’s proposal will likely be weighed against the Green New Deal, another trillion-dollar plan that aims to tackle issues related to the US’ role in global climate change. Several 2020 Democratic presidential candidates have voiced support for the environmental proposal, including California Sen. Kamala Harris and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
She noted that she planned to work on health care policy as well – “You can do two things at once” – but explained that said she chose infrastructure as the first major policy rollout of her 2020 presidential campaign because “it’s been so long neglected. And someone has to take the lead on infrastructure.”
Infrastructure “is something where there is common agreement, there always has been, and it’s an example of something that I believe we could easily get done in the first year.”
In a swipe at Trump, Klobuchar said that “there’s a reason the president’s been talking about it – he just hasn’t gotten it done. And I believe there is a will to get it done across the nation.”
CNN’s Eli Watkins contributed to this report.