The New Marshall Plan for American Jobs should focus on building America's energy, technology and transportation systems.
The country that masters the development and export of clean renewable energy will dominate the 21st century economy. Leading research estimates that renewable energy investments create 16.7 jobs for every $1 million in spending, while fossil fuel jobs create only 5.3 jobs per $1 million in spending. America has ample land where wind, solar and other renewable energies can be produced affordably, and to create manufacturing and service jobs that comprise the sector. New Mexico has already seen strong growth in these industries over the past decade. That is why as State Senator, I sponsored legislation to direct state investments to these renewable industries. I also sponsored and passed a renewable energy jobs training bill to prepare workers to transition to these industries. And as Albuquerque City Councilor, I championed the Renewable Energy Incentive Program, which promoted the renewable energy industry in the city.
The plan should call for a bold national investment using a combination of business incentives, worker re-training programs and direct investments to help domestic renewable energy industries grow and hire millions of workers. If we are serious about winning the future, rebuilding our manufacturing sector and creating jobs for Americans, then we must start with winning the fast-growing global market for clean renewable energy. A bold plan for job creation would stand up to Big Oil and do what is in the country's best interest.
The plan should also strengthen our nation's information technology and telecommunications infrastructure so that all businesses and workers will benefit from easier, faster and more secure access to customers, goods and jobs, and improve our nation's overall economic productivity and global competitiveness. Sadly, the U.S. remains the only advanced economy in the world without a clear national broadband policy and ranks only 20th among all nations in household broadband penetration with 60% saturation, behind countries such as South Korea (95%), Singapore (88%) and Canada (76%). Just as our 20th century economic boom benefited from creating the nation's interstate highway system, we need to prepare for the 21st century economic boom by laying the nation's information highway system. A bold investment to rapidly expand and improve the quality of high-speed broadband and wireless communications coverage to all U.S. households, businesses and service centers, including schools and hospitals, could add millions more jobs and make our goods and services more competitive.
Improving our nation's infrastructure will create jobs quickly and save people and businesses billions of dollars annually. Every $1 billion spent on infrastructure creates about 18,000 jobs while old infrastructure costs individuals and businesses an estimated $195 billion annually, or nearly $2 trillion a decade. A bold construction, repair and retrofit program for roads, railways, bridges, ports, water system improvements, dams and levees, hospitals and schools could put millions of Americans to work. More and better schools, hospitals and community centers will also foster more livable communities in which businesses operate to attract and retain talented workers.
Finally, as part of a bold job creation plan, I believe the President should call for reducing the tax burden on working families so that they will have more income to spend on everyday goods and services that help small businesses in their local communities, spurring local jobs. I would support a short-term two-year extension of tax relief for working families making less than $250,000 a year.
Paying for a bold New Marshall Plan for American Jobs
This job creation plan can be paid for by eliminating the Bush tax cuts for the rich while allowing working families to keep more of their income, closing corporate tax loopholes that shortchange the U.S. Treasury, asking Wall Street to take greater responsibility and accelerating the draw-down of American troops and expenditures from our expensive commitments in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Cutting taxes for the rich and keeping tax loopholes for big corporations will only worsen income inequality in this country, while doing little to help small businesses create jobs and protect the shrinking middle class. We tried "trickling down" under George W. Bush and what we got was the slowest job growth since World War II. If we were to make the Bush tax cuts permanent for the rich making more than $250,000 a year, it would add over $1 trillion to the national debt over the next 10 years and only hurt our economy. What small business owners need to make money and create jobs are more customers. More tax giveaways to the richest Americans, Big Oil and other big corporations that sit on record piles of cash won't solve the problem. Neither will forcing small businesses and individuals to take on the burden of revenue lost to overseas tax shelters and other loopholes used by big corporations.
The President should follow super-capitalist Warren Buffett's advice: "Stop coddling the rich" and raise their income tax levels to the rates during the Clinton years. By closing the corporate loophole, including offshore tax havens, and putting daylight on hidden profits made by hedge fund and private equity managers, we can raise nearly $1 trillion over 10 years.
To pay for this bold plan for job creation, the President should also consider a tax on Wall Street speculation. According to prominent economists, a sales tax on Wall Street speculation of only 0.5 percent could raise up to $175 billion in revenue per year. Raising revenue this way would be fair: after all, millions of Americans are out of work as a result of irresponsible speculation on Wall Street that led to the financial crisis and then the Great Recession. We have already bailed out Wall Street with billions of our tax dollars through TARP, and it's time for Wall Street to step up to their responsibility to help people get back to work.
The final source of revenue should come from quickly bringing our troops home from Afghanistan and Iraq and phasing out our expenditures there. We have already spent over $1.2 trillion in the two wars, with billions of dollars still being added monthly. If our leaders in Washington are serious about rebuilding our economy and creating jobs for Americans, then they need to begin redirecting the money we spend to pave roads, build waterways and construct schools in those countries to instead create jobs for Americans here at home.
Washington needs to shift priorities from making the rich richer to helping working families keep their jobs, small businesses create jobs and the unemployed and the underemployed find work. That's what I would do as Congressman. And today, the President has the opportunity to do just that by laying out a bold new Marshall Plan for American jobs.