Obama’s Jobs Plan: Infrastructure

UPDATE:  A motion to proceed to debate on the Rebuild America Jobs Act, now numbered S. 1769, failed to achieve cloture on Thursday 11/3 by a vote of 51-49. All Republicans and two conservative members of the Democratic Caucus, Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT), voted to kill the legislation.

When the Senate failed to proceed to debate on the American Jobs Act, Senator Harry Reid vowed to bring up each piece of the legislation individually. The Rebuild America Jobs Act represents the first such attempt and focuses on one of the more lauded areas of government spending and job creation: infrastructure.

90 Second Summaries: Season 2, Episode 26
Rebuild America Jobs Act
Will be introduced week of 10/31/11
Sponsor: Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV)
Click here to download this summary (pdf)

Cosponsors: None

Status: Will likely be inserted in place of a dead House-passed bill or other legislation on the Senate calendar. Will be brought to the Senate floor this week, but is exceedingly unlikely to garner the 60 votes needed to break a filibuster on a motion to proceed to debate.

House Companion: No direct counterpart.

Purpose: In early September, Obama announced the American Jobs Act in a major speech to a joint session of Congress. Republicans initially sounded open to possible negotiations, but soon hardened their stance in opposition. While dead on arrival in the House, the American Jobs Act was considered in the Senate, but a motion to proceed to debate was blocked on October 11th. On the heels of that defeat, Majority Leader Reid vowed to bring up each section of the bill as a stand alone measure. The Rebuild America Jobs Act, focused on popular and sorely needed infrastructure investments, is the second such measure to be considered.

Summary: The $60 billion Rebuild America Jobs Act closely mirrors the infrastructure section of the original American Jobs Act, . It contains three major components:

1) Infrastructure Bank. Cost: $10 billion
• Creation of a National Infrastructure Bank, modeled on the Kerry-Hutchison BUILD Act. The measure creates the American Infrastructure Financing Authority (AIFA), an independent government-owned corporation. AIFA could leverage up to $640 billion in combined public and private infrastructure spending over the next decade.

2) Direct Infrastructure Spending. Cost: $50 billion
• This direct government investment using traditional means includes: highways, passenger and freight rail, and port infrastructure projects through the Highway Trust Fund ($27B), transit system repairs ($9B), Amtrak ($2B), high-speed rail ($4B), airport improvements ($2B), NextGen air traffic modernization technology ($1B), and innovative multimodal transportation programs awarded through a competitive grant process ($5B).

3) Millionaire’s Tax to Pay for the Investments. Revenue: ~$60 billion
• Imposes a 0.7% surtax on taxable income over $1 million for both single and joint filers, taking effect in 2013.

Note: Reid’s choice to pay for this legislation with a tax source considered unacceptable by Republicans reflects the reality that virtually nothing proposed by Democrats has a chance of passing through this Congress, even though many Republicans have supported very similar infrastructure proposals in the past. Thus, the appearance of this bill is driven primarily by political considerations, part of an ongoing effort to frame Republicans as nihilistic obstructionists.

CBO Score: None provided. CBO did score the American Jobs Act (both S.1549 and S. 1660): http://cboblog.cbo.gov/?p=2875

Supporters: President Obama, most Democrats, AFL-CIO, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, infrastructure advocates, etc.

• Supporters see this as a win-win proposal, one that would help close the $2.2 trillion “infrastructure gap” and simultaneously create tens of thousands of jobs.

Opponents: most Republicans, Tea Party activists

• Some opponents believe only the private sector, not government, can create jobs, and the best way to turn the economy around is to shrink the government. Furthermore, they staunchly oppose the taxes increases on the rich proposed as offsets. Some, however, simply see continued economic troubles as a boon for Republicans in 2012.

Further links
Full bill text (from the American Jobs Act): http://bit.ly/sEOWUs (Secs. 241-260)
Senate Dems fact sheet on the bill: http://democrats.senate.gov/2011/10/21/fact-sheet-rebuild-america-jobs-act/
Main Street Insider’s summary of the full American Jobs Act: http://www.mainstreetinsider.org/90secondsummaries/?p=489
Bloomberg article: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-10-21/senate-democrats-propose-60-billion-in-infrastructure-spending.html
Sen. Kerry info on the BUILD Act: http://kerry.senate.gov/work/issues/issue/?id=f0a4612d-382a-46fb-9d31-73e949167108

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