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Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar unveiled a $1 trillion plan to overhaul American infrastructure Thursday in a direct challenge to two of President Donald Trump's biggest priorities – his tax cuts, which became law, and his infrastructure plan, which has not come to fruition.
The Minnesota Democrat wants to combine $650 billion in federal funding with loan guarantees and tax subsidies to upgrade U.S. infrastructure, her campaign announced. She aims not only to repair roads, bridges, airports, railroads and schools, but also ensure "every household in America" has an internet connection by 2022. The senator's plan also calls for encouraging renewable energy and protecting U.S. infrastructure from climate change threats such as rising sea levels.
Klobuchar hopes to give an alternative to a $1 trillion infrastructure proposal put forward by Trump, who has not yet made progress on his pledge to overhaul U.S. infrastructure ahead of his 2020 re-election bid. Her campaign called Trump's proposal a "mirage" because it hopes to spur $1 trillion in public and private spending with $200 billion in federal money, less than a third of what she's proposing.
To fund her proposal, Klobuchar would reverse part of Trump's signature achievement in the White House: tax cuts.
She would raise the corporate tax rate to 25 percent from the current 21 percent, while "closing loopholes that encourage U.S. companies to move jobs and operations overseas, establishing a financial risk fee on our largest banks, and increasing efforts for tax enforcement." The 25 percent corporate tax rate would still be lower than the 35 percent that was in effect before Trump signed the Republican overhaul in December 2017.
Calls for infrastructure investment have increased from both major parties as concerns grow about disrepair and inefficiencies hamstringing the U.S. economy and costing lives. In April 2017, 76 percent of Americans said they support Trump's $1 trillion infrastructure plan, versus 12 percent who responded that they did not, according to a Gallup poll.
Still, infrastructure does not rank as high as other issues on voters' priority list. Asked late last year what the top priority should be for the new Congress, infrastructure tied for sixth after immigration, health care, the economy, the environment and impeachment of Trump, according to a Quinnipiac University poll.
During her campaign, Klobuchar has cited her own experience with crumbling infrastructure: the collapse of a Minneapolis bridge in 2007 that killed 13 people and injured 145.
Members of both major parties see infrastructure as an area of universal political appeal. Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have both cited it as a subject where they could cooperate in the current Congress, though they have not made significant progress toward passing a bill.
Klobuchar appears to be the first 2020 Democratic presidential candidate to propose a specific infrastructure plan. Former Vice President Joe Biden, who is considering a presidential bid, has started to craft an infrastructure plan that he could make part of his campaign.
Biden, who has long criticized the state of U.S. airports, would join Klobuchar as one of the more centrist Democratic candidates if he entered the race.
Klobuchar has trailed multiple rivals in every early Democratic primary poll. Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders-I-Vt., Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and former Rep. Beto O'Rourke have led the pack in most surveys so far.