jayapal khanna

Indian American Rep. Pramila Jayapal (left) of Washington speaks during a news conference with Sen. Elizabeth Warren to announce legislation that would tax the net worth of America’s wealthiest individuals, at the U.S. Capitol on March 1, 2021 in Washington, D.C., while Indian American Rep. Ro Khanna, Democrat from California, speaks during a press conference following a vote on Yemen, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. April 4, 2019. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images; Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

President Joe Biden unveiled March 31 an ambitious $2 trillion plan to overhaul the nation’s deteriorating infrastructure and create jobs while putting the country on its way to “win the global competition with China.”

Calling the plan “a once-in-a-generation investment in America,” he compared its scope to the space race of the ‘50s and ‘60s when the U.S. confronted the Soviet Union and won the race to the moon.

Though supporting the bill, progressives such as Indian American Reps. Pramila Jayapal and Ro Khanna are pushing for an even bolder and more comprehensive plan on climate, industrialization, and infrastructure than the one Biden has presented.

“Now is the time to go big. While @POTUS’s infrastructure plan is a great first step, we must do more to make the economic and social investments that we need,” Jayapal tweeted.

Khanna, in an interview to Fox News, said there was need for a massive investment to re-industrialize the U.S., pushing for a massive 10 trillion-dollar investment plan over a decade.

“What we’re saying is, let’s at least have consensus on re-industrializing America. That’s productive investment. Up to $10 trillion over 10 years to re-industrialize America, so that we’re producing batteries here, electric vehicles here, and having critical manufacturing supplies here,” PTI quoted Khanna as saying. “But I do think that we have to pay for it. I mean, we have to pay for most of it. A start would be to actually collect taxes from those who are evading taxes. Larry Summers has a proposal that, if we just enforced the tax on people who aren’t paying tax right now, we could collect up to $1.2 trillion in 10 years. So, that’s what I would say is the first starting point.”

Khanna said he was completely opposed to a mileage tax or a gas tax. “That hurts working families. That hurts people in rural America who have to commute long distances. I think it would be tone-deaf to have that kind of a tax,” he was quoted as saying. “What I’m talking about in terms of collecting taxes isn’t just going after fraud and abuse. Right now, a lot of business income is not disclosed. If you created a new IRS form that required banks to have the disclosure of input and output in terms of accounts, you would be able to collect a lot more.”

Khanna supported Biden’s move to raise rates on those making over $400,000, and raising top marginal rates on them, per PTI.

“While President Biden’s proposal is a welcome first step, more must be done to improve on this initial framework to meet the challenges we face,” Congressional Progressive Caucus chair Jayapal, a Washington Democrat, said in a statement, reported Bloomberg.

Jayapal said progressives want a plan “that demonstrates the size, scope, and speed” required to aggressively slash carbon emissions, create millions of good-paying jobs and reduce inequality.

“Given the president’s fierce resolve in passing the overwhelmingly popular American Rescue Plan earlier this month, it makes little sense to narrow his previous ambition on infrastructure or compromise with the physical realities of climate change,” Bloomberg quoted Jayapal as saying.

Progressives prefer “a single, ambitious package,” rather than breaking the proposal into several smaller bills, she said, according to the Bloomberg report, which added that Jayapal called on congressional leaders “to make all the economic and social investments that we need – with or without Republican votes – and before Congress leaves for August recess.”

The first phase of the plan, called the ‘Jobs Plan’, aims to modernize transportation infrastructure – fix highways, rebuild bridges, upgrade ports, airports and transit systems.

It seeks to deliver clean drinking water, a renewed electric grid, and high-speed broadband to all Americans; build, preserve, and retrofit more than two million homes and commercial buildings, modernize schools and child care facilities and upgrade veterans’ hospitals and federal buildings; solidify the infrastructure of the care economy by creating jobs and raising wages and benefits for essential home care workers; revitalize manufacturing, secure U.S. supply chains, invest in R&D, and train Americans for the jobs of the future; and create good-quality jobs that pay prevailing wages in safe and healthy workplaces.

It is to be financed through an increase in corporate taxes from 21 percent to 28 percent and hiking taxes on those making more than $400,000 a year.

His plan, Biden said, “will grow the economy, make us more competitive around the world, promote our national security interests, and put us in a position to win the global competition with China in the upcoming years.”

He will need the backing of at least 10 Republican senators to get the 60 votes needed in the evenly divided Senate to get the plan approved while keeping his base intact, said IANS.

The main sticking point is his proposal to raise taxes. Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell said he was unlikely to back Biden’s infrastructure plan.

A way around the Republican Senate roadblock would be for the infrastructure legislation to be treated as an amendment to the budget, which would need only 51 votes. And that’s what Biden, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer are preparing for.

(With IANS inputs)

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