Indian American lawmakers want Biden to ‘go big’ on infrastructure

Pramila Jayapal and Ro Khanna push for a “substantially larger” infrastructure stimulus package than Biden’s $2 trillion plan.

Amid Republican criticism of President Joe Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure bill over its high price tag, progressive Democrats led by Indian American lawmaker Pramila Jayapal want him to “go big” with a “substantially larger” package.

“Now is the time to go BIG.” Jayapal, Progressive Caucus Chair tweeted saying Biden’s infrastructure stimulus plan was a “welcome first step” but calls for a plan “substantially larger in size and scope” and for a “single, ambitious package”.

“We believe that our country is ready for an even bolder, more comprehensive and integrated plan that demonstrates the size, scope, and speed required to aggressively slash carbon pollution and avoid climate catastrophe; create millions of good, family-sustaining, union jobs; improve Americans’ health and safety; reduce racial and gender disparities; and curb income inequality by making the wealthy and large corporations finally pay their fair share in taxes,” she stated Wednesday.

Jayapal said Congress and the White House should make “all the economic and social investments that we need—with or without Republican votes—and before Congress leaves for August recess. We must act urgently to develop and pass a package that rises to the unprecedented challenges we face as a country.”

Biden on Wednesday unveiled the broad overview of his American Jobs Plan, saying the legislation would be “the largest American jobs investment since World War II.”

The bill would include hundreds of billions of dollars to rebuild crumbling US infrastructure, while it would additionally aim to shore up manufacturing and housing infrastructure, among other proposals.

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a prominent progressive Democrat from New York, raised similar concerns.

“This is not nearly enough. The important context here is that it’s $2.25T spread out over 10 years. For context, the Covid package was $1.9T for this year *alone,* with some provisions lasting 2 years,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted on Tuesday. “Needs to be way bigger.”

Meanwhile, Indian American Congressman Ro Khanna pushed for a massive  $10 trillion investment plans over a decade to re-industrialize the US.

“What we’re saying is, let’s at least have consensus on re-industrializing America. That’s productive investment,” he told ‘Fox News’ on Tuesday.

“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.”

“But I do think that we have to pay for it. I mean, we have to pay for most of it,” Khanna said suggesting, “a start would be to actually collect taxes from those who are evading taxes.”

Larry Summers, former Harvard University president who served as a key economic adviser to both presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama has a proposal, he noted.

“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.

Responding to a question, 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 said.

“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,” he added.

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

Suggesting a financial transaction tax on speculation, Khanna said, “I would rather our money be going to producing batteries.

“Right now, China is eating our lunch when it comes to lithium ion battery production. They get all of the cobalt from the Democratic Republic of Congo,” he said.

“Don’t we want America producing those lithium ion batteries? Don’t we want to be producing the electric vehicles? Don’t we want to be producing critical manufacturing supplies?” Khanna asked.

“We couldn’t even have masks. I mean, in World War II, we armed our entire military,”  he said.

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