CAPITAL REGION — Congress should take back $1 trillion of the tax cuts approved late last year and instead spend that money on public infrastructure, from roads to broadband, U.S. Senate Democratic Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said Wednesday.
New York's senior senator said Democrats in the Senate will reach out to Republicans about repealing the tax cut and will make it an issue in the fall elections if Republicans don't reconsider the tax cut, which no Democrats supported.
"If we don't get this, it will be an issue in the elections," Schumer said in a conference call with reporters. "We think most Americans would rather see this money go to infrastructure rather than to tax cuts for the most wealthy Americans."
The Democrats' plan stands in sharp contract to a proposal introduced earlier this year by President Donald Trump, which would also spend $1 trillion over 10 years to improve infrastructure but would require local governments and private investors to put up most of that money, with the likelihood of more roads and bridges requiring users to pay tolls.
Trump's plan has received virtually no support in Congress, and Republicans haven't put forth any different plans. But congressional Republicans are unlikely to budge on the tax plan they approved in December, which cuts taxes for many in the middle class, but which critics say disproportionately benefits corporations and the wealthy.
"We want to roll back the Republican tax giveaways to big corporations and the very wealthy and invest that money instead in job-creating infrastructure," Schumer said on the Senate floor Wednesday morning. "We say, take some of those tax breaks from the wealthiest Americans and put them into middle-class jobs. Plain and simple."
One Republican leader in Washington dismissed the Democrats' plan out of hand.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said it's too bad Democrats voted against the tax plan, as its benefits are "percolating through every corner of our economy," according to the Washington Post.
"Repeal all these bonuses, pay raises, new jobs, and new investments?" McConnell said. "Talk about a non-starter."
To raise some of the lost revenue, Schumer said the Democrats want to bring back the estate tax on estates valued at more than $10 million, increase the corporate tax rate from 21 percent to 25 percent and return the tax rate on wealthy individuals back to 39.5 percent, from 37 percent.
"Without increasing the deficit a nickel, it will bring in $1.02 trillion," Schumer said.
In the Capital Region, Schumer specifically cited replacement of the Livingston Avenue railroad bridge over the Hudson River between Rensselaer and Albany as a project that should be funded, if the Democrats' plan is approved. Parts of that bridge are more than 115 years old, and its condition slows passenger trains coming to and leaving the Albany-Rensselaer Amtrak station.
"We need to make sure we get speedy passenger rail on Amtrak," he said.
He also cited a need to upgrade municipal sewage treatment systems in the Albany area to prevent raw and partially treated sewage from being washed into the Hudson during major rain events.
"Our infrastructure plan is going to get a huge shot in the arm, the way the Erie Canal was for upstate New York when it was built," Schumer said.
Schumer said the proposal would provide funding for the Gateway tunnel between New Jersey and New York, and would also include money for mass transit, including upstate mass transit systems like the Capital District Transportation Authority.
"CDTA would do extremely well under this proposal, with their proposal to link Troy and Albany and Schenectady with high-speed buses," Schumer said.