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Public Statements

Rebuild America Jobs Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. STABENOW. Mr. President, first, I wish to thank my good friend and colleague from Rhode Island for his important words on the floor and for indicating that millions and millions of middle-class families and small businesses in this country expect us to figure out a way to make sure the tax system is fair and we have the opportunity for everyone to be able to be successful in this country and know they have a fair chance to make it and that the rules are not rigged for just a few folks. So I wish to thank the distinguished Senator for his comments and for his leadership and pointing out some very important things for the majority of Americans and small businesses across the country.

I rise to speak about a very important issue that will be coming before us for a vote that directly relates to jobs. As the Chair knows, that is a pretty big issue for me in Michigan. We have over 11 percent unemployment. I am laser focused on creating jobs and growing the economy because I think it is absolutely critical for us to get out of debt. We are not going to get out of debt with more than 14 million people out of work, and we are not going to be able to move forward in a way that allows families and businesses to succeed in America if we are not able to turn this economy around and create jobs.

Following World War II, our country created a system of roads and bridges and railways and airports unlike any in the world. In fact, countries are now looking to duplicate what we have done. In the decades that followed, this important infrastructure served as the foundation of our economic growth and prosperity, being able to move commerce and people from one place to another, and we grew. Now that infrastructure has fallen into disrepair. Not surprisingly, we need to be doing some things to be able to rebuild and make sure our bridges are safe and to be able to move forward in a global economy and have the ability to compete because we have an infrastructure that is worthy of the 21st century.

More than one-quarter of our Nation's bridges are either structurally deficient or obsolete. Think about that, one out of four. If I am driving down the road, I don't think I want to bet that one-out-of-four probability that the bridge I am driving over with my children or my two beautiful grandchildren is safe. I think families want to know every bridge is safe, every road is safe, and that they are not going to put their families in jeopardy as they are driving on our roads and crossing our bridges.

In Michigan, we have 1,400 bridges that are deficient--more than 13 percent of Michigan's bridges. Motorists in Michigan are no stranger to bad roads. I can tell you as somebody who has the wonderful honor of representing Michigan, a very large State, I spend much time on the road, as do my brothers in their work, and my family is on the road as well. We can tell you every year the freezing and thawing wreaks havoc on our roads and every year our roads are full of potholes. I certainly can speak from experience about the expense of fixing a car when one drives over and falls into one of those big potholes.

Even our Republican Governor, Rick Snyder, says we need to invest in infrastructure. He recently said:

Michigan's infrastructure is living on borrowed time. We must reinvest in it if we are to successfully reinvent our economy.

I couldn't agree more. I wish to commend the Governor for those words and for his focus and his administration's focus on investing in our roads and our infrastructure.

We are sitting in traffic and paying the price at the pump because we have fallen behind in maintaining and improving our physical infrastructure as a country to be able to move across town or across the State or across the country. If we don't invest to fix our crumbling roads and bridges and airports now, the costs will only go up, as we know. Failure to act now will cost nearly 1 million Americans their jobs. Those are a lot of people. Those are a lot of families. Those are a lot of mortgages. Those are a lot of families figuring out whether they are going to be able to put food on the table and send their kids to college. There are 1 million American jobs in jeopardy. It will cost our economy nearly $1 trillion over the next 10 years if we do not act. We have the opportunity to act and we have the opportunity to act right now. We can invest in rebuilding our infrastructure and it will, in turn, rebuild our economy and create jobs.

The Rebuild America Jobs Act is an opportunity to turn the corner and to head in the right direction. Not only will it upgrade 150,000 miles of roadway, improve thousands of miles of train track, and modernize our Nation's runways and air traffic control systems, but it will also put hundreds of thousands of people to work. This is a win-win. The Rebuild America Jobs Act will provide desperately needed repair funds and will provide the seed money for a national infrastructure bank that will attract private sector capital to help fund a broad range of new investments. This is such an important idea to be able to provide seed money, to be able to track the private sector, private capital, to be able to invest, to be able to leverage the dollars that American taxpayers put in and be able to address all our roads and bridges and other infrastructure needs in a way that creates jobs.

It will have a very big impact on my great State of Michigan. The plan will make immediate investments in Michigan that could support at least 11,700 local jobs that are so critical to us right now as we are coming out of this huge jobs deficit hole we have been in for too long. The plan to rebuild our infrastructure and put Americans back to work has bipartisan as well as strong support from the private sector. The presidents of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Republican Mayors and Local Officials Coalition have both supported the infrastructure investments we are talking about. This approach has strong bipartisan support.

Simply put, the Rebuild America Jobs Act will fix our crumbling infrastructure, put hundreds of thousands of people back to work at the same time. It will not add a dime to our deficit, and the American people support it. So this is a win-win. Why will it not add a dime to our deficit? Because we pay for it in a way that I think is very reasonable and very fair. We are asking those who are most blessed economically in our country, those who earn over $1 million a year, to pay less than 1 percent, .7 percent, on any $1 they earn above the first $1 million of income. So they would be asked to have basically a surcharge to contribute to creating jobs and investing in the future of America, rebuilding America--jobs that cannot go overseas, jobs in rebuilding America.

This can be done for less than a 1-percent surcharge, not on the first $1 million they earn but on the $1 that comes after or the $2 or the $5 or the $10 or the second million. It is anything above $1 million where we are asking those in our country who are in a position to be able to help instead of going back to middle-class families, working families, senior citizens, people who have been hurt so hard in this recession for so long. Instead of asking them one more time to be the ones to carry the burden, we are, instead, asking those who have had success, who have been blessed financially, and who have benefited from this great country, whether it was with what was done to support Wall Street, whether it was other ways in this country, for them to be a part of the solution with less than 1 percent on any dollars earned above $1 million. I think this is a reasonable and fair approach.

This is about jobs. We are talking about the Rebuild America Jobs Act, putting people back to work, doing something that is incredibly important for our country and will grow the economy, create jobs, rebuild communities, and help our country move forward.

I urge my colleagues, when we have the vote, to move forward on this bill and that we all join in what has been a bipartisan set of issues of infrastructure investment and rebuilding America. I hope we will see that in the vote that will be coming in the next couple days.

I yield the floor.


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