The challenges Biden faces in reaching a bipartisan infrastructure deal exposed at a Senate finance committee audience Tuesday on financing options for such a package.
“Right now in Washington, DC, it would be difficult to get members of Congress to agree on the right way to wear toast, but I think everyone understands the importance of infrastructure upgrades.” , Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), the chair of the committee, said in his opening remarks.
But Wyden also said that, in his opinion, the “obvious answer” to the difficult question of how to pay for infrastructure fairly was to get companies to take note: “It’s past time to mega-companies to pay a fair share for the construction and repair of roads and bridges. They drive trucks on American roads and highways. They send products to market through our airports and waterways. They rely on our electricity grids and our communication systems. And it seems to me that it is only basic fairness that they should participate in the infrastructure that makes our country an economic superpower. “
Wyden said that “mega-corporations” never in modern history contributed less to federal revenues than they do now, and again cited data from the Congressional Budget Office indicating that as a result of the GOP’s tax overhaul in 2017, corporate tax revenues have fallen by almost 40% of the 21st century average. He also rejected the Republican idea of charging user fees for infrastructure, arguing that the fees suggest that “middle-class workers are supposed to pay what mega-companies won’t.”
Moments later, Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID), the senior Republican on the Finance Committee, called the idea of corporate tax increases “counterproductive and not partisan on my side. the aisle ”. Crapo defended the search for user fees, including those for electric vehicle drivers, to pay for infrastructure.
“There is no silver bullet for how to pay for transport infrastructure, but historically it has been paid for by user fees, which makes sense,” he said. “To maximize the use of taxpayer dollars, we should consider proposals to attract private capital for infrastructure projects, reuse unused federal funds, and improve and expand existing infrastructure loan programs.
The two senators agreed on a possible funding option: Wyden and Crapo both expressed their openness to renewing the Build America Bond program created under the Obama administration.
Naomi Jagoda from the hill Explain that under this program, “state and local governments could issue taxable bonds in 2009 and 2010 and receive a grant from the federal government for a portion of their interest costs.” The program was popular, with around $ 180 billion in bonds issued, but was not renewed when it expired. “
“It’s an approach that Congress has to come back to because it works,” Wyden said. Crapo agreed, saying bonds “can be an important way to leverage private capital into our infrastructure.”
Wyden called it “an outbreak of major bipartisanship.”
Learn more about the Build America Bond program and a similar new proposal at The hill.