US House progressives tout $2trn infra plan

A proposal released on Thursday by the Congressional Progressive Caucus would see the private sector play at most a modest role.

Progressives in Congress have put forward an alternative to President Donald Trump’s infrastructure outline, calling for $2 trillion in spending over 10 years and criticising the president’s focus on engaging the private sector.

The plan from the Congressional Progressive Caucus, a left-leaning – mostly Democrat – group of House members and one senator, calls for $200 billion in spending in the first year alone, with most of that money going towards energy ($50 billion), roads and bridges ($40 billion), drinking and wastewater ($35 billion), and transit ($35 billion).

The legislation, proposed by Representative Ted Lieu of California, contrasts with Trump’s plan, which includes $200 billion of added infrastructure spending over 10 years but also cuts $2.4 billion from the transportation department’s budget.

While Trump has emphasised an increased role for the private sector, the progressive plan says direct spending must provide “the overwhelming majority of the funding for infrastructure improvement”. A plan to boost private sector infrastructure spending by creating tax credits for investors, proposed in October by Trump’s campaign advisors, was dubbed as a “a trillion-dollar corporate giveaway” which “will leave the infrastructure that we depend on in utter disrepair unless it generates a profit for private investors”.

The increase in federal spending would be paid for by closing corporate tax loopholes, targeting tax deferral by companies holding profits abroad, states a report issued alongside the legislation by the Progressive Caucus. The caucus also pushed back on Trump’s promise to streamline environmental regulations, saying that Congress must “not weaken or repeal existing laws or rules protecting the air, water or environment”.

The caucus unveiled its plan on Thursday, two days after Trump’s budget and infrastructure initiatives were released. While the president’s promise to spur $1 trillion in infrastructure spending has been cited as an area of bipartisan consensus, the two plans highlight how much distance exists between the parties.