Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota unveiled a plan Thursday to spend a trillion dollars in federal funds to upgrade the country’s infrastructure, the first policy announcement of her campaign for the Democratic nomination for president.
The proposal would use a combination of federal dollars, tax subsidies and loan guarantees for state and local governments to upgrade not only crumbling roads, highways and bridges, but also schools, airports, water systems, internet access, public transit and energy systems.
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In a statement, Ms. Klobuchar’s campaign said the infrastructure plan would be her top budget priority as president, with the goal of turning it into reality in her first year in office through a combination of legislation and executive actions.
On the campaign trail, Ms. Klobuchar has presented herself to voters as a seasoned pragmatist who could bridge political divides to get policies passed in Washington.
She has pointed to her experience assembling a bipartisan coalition to quickly rebuild the Interstate 35 W bridge in Minneapolis after it collapsed in 2007, killing 13 people and injuring dozens. Working with then-Senator Norm Coleman, a Republican, Ms. Klobuchar secured more than $250 million in emergency funding within days.
“We got that thing rebuilt in 13 months,” she told voters at a town hall event in Rye, N.H., on Saturday. “I believe as president you use those skills. I know where those rural senators are, I know exactly what we need to build that coalition, and you get a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan through the U.S. Senate.”
Beyond $650 billion in direct federal spending, Ms. Klobuchar’s plan would create an independent federal infrastructure bank and reinstate Build America Bonds, an Obama administration program that provided state and local governments with a 35 percent subsidy to offset borrowing costs. It would also create two bond programs that would aim to expand clean energy tax incentives and spur private sector investment.
The increased infrastructure spending would be offset by raising the corporate tax rate to 25 percent, the campaign said, establishing new fees on large banks and increasing the penalties on companies that move jobs overseas.
Ms. Klobuchar is the first candidate in the 2020 race to release an infrastructure proposal, though others have unveiled policies for increasing taxes on the ultra-wealthy, breaking up the country’s largest technology companies, creating subsidies for newborns and raising teacher pay.
While Ms. Klobuchar advocates a bigger role for government, she doesn’t go as far as some of her rivals. She has described the expansive climate change initiative known as the Green New Deal as “aspirations,” and she has questioned the feasibility of proposals for free college and “Medicare for all.”
Aides to Ms. Klobuchar say there is bipartisan agreement around fixing the country’s infrastructure. As a candidate, President Trump proposed spending $1 trillion to address it, and last year his administration presented a $1.5 trillion proposal, including $200 billion in federal money. That plan, which contained few details or specifics on how the funding would work, received a lukewarm reception from Congress and the country’s governors.
“His plan is a mirage,” Ms. Klobuchar’s campaign said in a statement. “Amy has a concrete, common-sense proposal that will invest in our future and make sure our country’s infrastructure is second to none.”