Tag Archives: infrastructure

Biden Presents Plan to Build a Modern, Sustainable Infrastructure and an Equitable Clean Energy Future

Wind turbines outside San Francisco, California. Vice President Joe Biden is proposing $2 trillion accelerated investment to “set us on an irreversible course to meet the ambitious climate progress that science demands.” (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

In the latest of a series of defined programs under the “Build Back Better” banner, Biden has issued his “Plan to Build a Modern, Sustainable Infrastructure and an Equitable Clean Energy Future” in which he proposes a $2 trillion accelerated investment plan to “set us on an irreversible course to meet the ambitious climate progress that science demands.” Biden’s plan was immediately “answered” by Trump issuing new rules to obliterate environmental review, what he terms “right-size” federal environment, to greenlight development while cutting off localities’ ability to stop or mitigate the impacts. Compare and contrast.–Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The Biden Plan to Build a Modern, Sustainable Infrastructure and an Equitable Clean Energy Future

At this moment of profound crisis, we have the opportunity to build a more resilient, sustainable economy – one that will put the United States on an irreversible path to achieve net-zero emissions, economy-wide, by no later than 2050. Joe Biden will seize that opportunity and, in the process, create millions of good-paying jobs that provide workers with the choice to join a union and bargain collectively with their employers.
 
President Trump has a devastating pattern of denying science and leaving our country unprepared and vulnerable. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, he ignored public health experts, praised the Chinese government, and failed to take the actions needed to protect the American people. And as the crisis accelerated, Trump rolled back environmental standards that protect public health — adding to the 100 similar environmental and public health protections he has rolled back since taking office — even though early data suggests a link between exposure to pollution and serious negative health impacts from the virus.
 
Just as with COVID-19, Donald Trump has denied science and failed to step up in the face of the climate crisis. He has called it a hoax. He has allowed our infrastructure to deteriorate and farmers’ fields to flood. He has held back American workers from leading the world on clean energy, giving China and other countries a free pass to outcompete us in key technologies and the jobs that come with them. And instead of supporting more tax credits that keep solar and wind workers employed here at home, Trump showered tax cuts on multinational companies that encourage offshoring. His actions have not only set us back in terms of progress on environmental justice and clean energy jobs, they have made us more vulnerable – weaker and less resilient – as a nation.
 
Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan ensures that – coming out of this profound public health and economic crisis, and facing the persistent climate crisis – we are never caught flat-footed again. He will launch a national effort aimed at creating the jobs we need to build a modern, sustainable infrastructure now and deliver an equitable clean energy future.
 
The current coronavirus crisis destroyed millions of American jobs, including hundreds of thousands in clean energy. It has exacerbated historic environmental injustices. And all this comes at a moment when the science tells us there is no time for delay on climate change. Biden will immediately invest in engines of sustainable job creation – new industries and re-invigorated regional economies spurred by innovation from our national labs and universities; commercialized into new and better products that can be manufactured and built by American workers; and put together using feedstocks, materials, and parts supplied by small businesses, family farms, and job creators all across our country. 
 
We need millions of construction, skilled trades, and engineering workers to build a new American infrastructure and clean energy economy. These jobs will create pathways for young people and for older workers shifting to new professions, and for people from all backgrounds and all communities. Their work will improve air quality for our children, increase the comfort of our homes, and make our businesses more competitive. The investments will make sure the communities who have suffered the most from pollution are first to benefit — including low-income rural and urban communities, communities of color, and Native communities. And, Biden’s plan will empower workers to organize unions and bargain collectively with their employers as they rebuild the middle class and a more sustainable future. Biden will make a $2 trillion accelerated investment, with a plan to deploy those resources over his first term, setting us on an irreversible course to meet the ambitious climate progress that science demands.

Biden will make far-reaching investments in:

  • Infrastructure: Create millions of good, union jobs rebuilding America’s crumbling infrastructure – from roads and bridges to green spaces and water systems to electricity grids and universal broadband – to lay a new foundation for sustainable growth, compete in the global economy, withstand the impacts of climate change, and improve public health, including access to clean air and clean water.
  • Auto Industry: Create 1 million new jobs in the American auto industry, domestic auto supply chains, and auto infrastructure, from parts to materials to electric vehicle charging stations, positioning American auto workers and manufacturers to win the 21st century; and invest in U.S. auto workers to ensure their jobs are good jobs with a choice to join a union.
  • Transit: Provide every American city with 100,000 or more residents with high-quality, zero-emissions public transportation options through flexible federal investments with strong labor protections that create good, union jobs and meet the needs of these cities – ranging from light rail networks to improving existing transit and bus lines to installing infrastructure for pedestrians and bicyclists.
  • Power Sector: Move ambitiously to generate clean, American-made electricity to achieve a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035. This will enable us to meet the existential threat of climate change while creating millions of jobs with a choice to join a union.
  • Buildings: Upgrade 4 million buildings and weatherize 2 million homes over 4 years, creating at least 1 million good-paying jobs with a choice to join a union; and also spur the building retrofit and efficient-appliance manufacturing supply chain by funding direct cash rebates and low-cost financing to upgrade and electrify home appliances and install more efficient windows, which will cut residential energy bills.
  • Housing: Spur the construction of 1.5 million sustainable homes and housing units.
  • Innovation: Drive dramatic cost reductions in critical clean energy technologies, including battery storage, negative emissions technologies, the next generation of building materials, renewable hydrogen, and advanced nuclear – and rapidly commercialize them, ensuring that those new technologies are made in America.
  • Agriculture and Conservation: Create jobs in climate-smart agriculture, resilience, and conservation, including 250,000 jobs plugging abandoned oil and natural gas wells and reclaiming abandoned coal, hardrock, and uranium mines – providing good work with a choice to join or continue membership in a union in hard hit communities, including rural communities, reducing leakage of toxics, and preventing local environmental damage. 
  • Environmental Justice: Ensure that environmental justice is a key consideration in where, how, and with whom we build – creating good, union, middle-class jobs in communities left behind, righting wrongs in communities that bear the brunt of pollution, and lifting up the best ideas from across our great nation – rural, urban, and tribal.

Biden will ensure these investments create good, union jobs that expand the middle class. American workers should build American infrastructure and manufacture the materials that go into it, and all of these workers must have the choice to join a union and collectively bargain. Biden will include in the economic recovery legislation he sends to Congress a series of policies to build worker power to raise wages and secure stronger benefits. This legislation will make it easier for workers to organize a union and collectively bargain with their employers by including the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, card check, union and bargaining rights for public service workers, and a broad definition of “employee” and tough enforcement to end the misclassification of workers as independent contractors. His bill will also go further than the PRO Act by holding company executives personally liable when they interfere with organizing efforts. He will also ensure that all companies benefitting from his infrastructure and clean energy investments meet the labor protections in Senator Merkley’s Good Jobs for 21st Century Energy Act, applying and strictly enforcing Davis-Bacon prevailing wage guidelines, and that those benefiting from transportation investments meet transit labor protections so that new jobs are good-paying jobs with family sustaining benefits. And, as called for in his plan to strengthen worker organizing, collective bargaining, and unions, Biden will require that companies receiving procurement contracts are using taxpayer dollars to support good American jobs, including a commitment to pay at least $15 per hour, provide paid leave, maintain fair overtime and scheduling practices, and guarantee a choice to join a union and bargain collectively.

Biden will ensure these jobs are filled by diverse, local, well-trained workers – including women and people of color – by requiring federally funded projects to prioritize Project Labor and Community Workforce Agreements and employ workers trained in registered apprenticeship programs. Biden will make investments in pre-apprenticeship programs and in community-based and proven organizations that help women and people of color access high-quality training and job opportunities. Biden’s proposal will make sure national infrastructure and clean energy investments create millions of middle-class jobs that develop a diverse and local workforce and strengthen communities as we rebuild our physical infrastructure.
 
Biden also reaffirms his commitment to fulfill our obligation to the workers and communities who powered our industrial revolution and decades of economic growth, as outlined in his original climate planThis includes securing the benefits coal miners and their families have earned, making an unprecedented investment in coal and power plant communities, and establishing a Task Force on Coal and Power Plant Communities.
 
The key elements of the Biden Plan to Build a Modern, Sustainable Infrastructure and an Equitable Clean Energy Future include:

1. Build a Modern Infrastructure
2. Position the U.S. Auto Industry to Win the 21st Century with technology invented in America
3. Achieve a Carbon Pollution-Free Power Sector by 2035
4. Make Dramatic Investments in Energy Efficiency in Buildings, including Completing 4 Million Retrofits and Building 1.5 Million New Affordable Homes
5. Pursue a Historic Investment in Clean Energy Innovation
6. Advance Sustainable Agriculture and Conservation
7. Secure Environmental Justice and Equitable Economy Opportunity
 

1. BUILD A MODERN INFRASTRUCTURE

Biden will create millions of good, union jobs building and upgrading a cleaner, safer, stronger infrastructure – including smart roads, water systems, municipal transit networks, schools, airports, rail, ferries, ports, and universal broadband access – for all Americans, whether they live in rural or urban areas.
 
Americans deserve infrastructure they can trust: infrastructure that is resilient to floods, fires, and other climate threats, not fragile in the face of these increasing risks. We need infrastructure that supports healthy, safe communities, rather than locking in the cumulative impacts of polluted air and poisonous water. And we need infrastructure, like universal broadband, that unleashes innovation and shared economic progress and educational opportunity to every community, rather than slowing it down.
 
Biden will rely on American union labor and American-made materials and products to build this infrastructure. He will create jobs in planning and management, from architects to engineers to designers. And, he will invest in the pre-development, development, and construction of this new and necessary infrastructure, building it in places and with the advanced materials – like clean steel and cement – in a way that promotes the livability of our communities and the accessibility of opportunity. Biden will create good, union jobs that expand the middle class by:

  • Transforming our crumbling transportation infrastructure – including roads and bridges, rail, aviation, ports, and inland waterways – making the movement of goods and people faster, cheaper, cleaner, and manufactured in America while preserving and growing the union workforce. Biden will also transform the energy sources that power the transportation sector, making it easier for mobility to be powered by electricity and clean fuels, including commuter trains, school and transit buses, ferries, and passenger vehicles. The resulting reduction in air pollution will save thousands of lives and millions in medical costs burdening families.
  • Sparking the second great railroad revolution. Biden will make sure that America has the cleanest, safest, and fastest rail system in the world — for both passengers and freight. His rail revolution will reduce pollution, connect workers to good union jobs, slash commute times, and spur investment in communities that will now be better linked to major metropolitan areas. To speed that work, Biden will tap existing federal grant and loan programs at the U.S. Department of Transportation, and improve and streamline the loan process. In addition, Biden will work with Amtrak and private freight rail companies to further electrify the rail system, reducing diesel fuel emissions.
  • Revolutionizing municipal transit networks. Most Americans do not have access to high-quality and zero-emissions options for affordable, reliable public transportation; and where transit exists, it’s often in need of repair. As a result, workers and families rely on cars and trucks, which can be a big financial burden and clog roadways. Biden will aim to provide all Americans in municipalities of more than 100,000 people with quality public transportation by 2030. He will allocate flexible federal investments with strong labor protections to help cities and towns install light rail networks and improve existing transit and bus lines. He’ll also help them invest in infrastructure for pedestrians, cyclists, and riders of e-scooters and other micro-mobility vehicles and integrate technologies like machine-learning optimized traffic lights. And, Biden will work to make sure that new, fast-growing areas are designed and built with clean and resilient public transit in mind. Specifically, he will create a new program that gives rapidly expanding communities the resources to build in public transit options from the start.
  • Ensuring clean, safe drinking water is a right in all communities – rural to urban, rich and poor – investing in the repair of water pipelines and sewer systems, replacement of lead service pipes, upgrade of treatment plants, and integration of efficiency and water quality monitoring technologies. This includes protecting our watersheds and clean water infrastructure from man-made and natural disasters by conserving and restoring wetlands and developing green infrastructure and natural solutions.
  • Expanding broadband, or wireless broadband via 5G, to every American – recognizing that millions of households without access to broadband are locked out of an economy that is increasingly reliant on virtual collaboration. Communities without access cannot leverage the next generation of “smart” infrastructure. As the COVID-19 crisis has revealed, Americans everywhere need universal, reliable, affordable, and high-speed internet to do their jobs, participate equally in remote school learning and stay connected. This digital divide needs to be closed everywhere, from lower-income urban schools to rural America, to many older Americans as well as those living on tribal lands. Just like rural electrification several generations ago, universal broadband is long overdue and critical to broadly shared economic success.
  • Cleaning up and redeveloping abandoned and underused Brownfield properties, old power plants and industrial facilities, landfills, abandoned mines, and other idle community assets that will be transformed into new economic hubs for communities all across America.
  • Revitalizing communities in every corner of the country so that no one is left behind or cut off from economic opportunities. Biden’s plan will ensure that our infrastructure investments work to address disparities – often along lines of race and class – in access to clean air, clean water, reliable and sustainable transportation, connectivity to high-speed internet, and access to jobs and educational opportunities. This includes ensuring tribes receive the resources and support they need to invest in roads, clean water, wastewater, broadband, and other essential infrastructure needs. It also means funding investments in local and regional strategies to prevent a lack of transportation options in urban, rural, and high-poverty areas from cutting off after-school opportunities for young people and job opportunities for workers seeking better jobs and more economic security for their families.

2. POSITION THE AMERICAN AUTO INDUSTRY TO WIN THE 21ST CENTURY
 
Eleven years ago, Joe Biden helped save the auto industry. Today, the industry once again faces a crisis. Not only has Trump overseen a manufacturing recession on his watch, but through neglect and failed trade policies, he has allowed China to race ahead in the competition to lead the auto industry of the future. China is on track to command more than four times the global market share compared to the U.S. in electric vehicle production, even as the Chinese government’s approach threatens to slow down or set back the long-term prospects of clean vehicle innovation.
 
As called for in his Plan to Ensure the Future is Made in All of America by America’s Workers, Biden will use all the levers of the federal government, from purchasing power, R&D, tax, trade, and investment policies to reverse this trend and position America to be the global leader in the manufacture of electric vehicles and their input materials and parts. Biden will vigorously enforce trade rules in response to currency manipulation, overcapacity, and Chinese government abuses in this sector. Here at home, he will spur an expansion of factory floors and a re-tool of existing manufacturing capacity, and create 1 million new jobs in auto manufacturing, auto supply chains, and auto infrastructure. And he’ll ensure those workers have good-paying jobs with a choice to join a union. Between 1979 and 2018, American workers have increased their productivity by 70%, while their real wages have only grown by 12% — in large part due to the decline in union density. Biden will reverse this trend, by ensuring that auto workers have jobs with strong labor standards and working to pass the PRO Act to ensure auto workers can more easily choose to join a union and bargain collectively with their employers. Leveraging the remarkable talents of U.S. auto workers, he will position the auto industry to win the 21st century.

  • Use the power of federal procurement to increase demand for American-made, American-sourced clean vehicles. As part of his historic commitment to increasing procurement investments, Biden will make a major federal commitment to purchase clean vehicles for federal, state, tribal, postal, and local fleets, making sure that we retain the critical union jobs involved in running and maintaining these fleets. By providing an immediate, clear, and stable source of demand, this procurement commitment will help to dramatically accelerate American industrial capacity to produce clean vehicles and components, while accelerating the upgrade of the 3 million vehicles in these fleets. 
  • Encourage consumers and manufacturers to go clean. Senators Schumer, Stabenow, Brown, and Merkley, alongside organizations like the United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and leading environmental groups, crafted  a Clean Cars For America proposal. Biden will build on their leadership by providing consumers rebates to swap old, less-efficient vehicles for these newer American vehicles built from materials and parts sourced in the United States. These rebates will be accompanied by significant new targeted incentives for manufacturers to build or retool factories to assemble zero-emission vehicles, parts, and associated infrastructure here at home. 
  • Make major public investments in automobile infrastructure — including in 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations — to create good jobs in industries supporting vehicle electrification. These investments are a key part of Biden’s commitment to reinvent the American transportation system from the factory line to the electric vehicle charging station, while promoting strong labor, training, and installation standards. This includes ensuring the workforce is trained in high quality training programs like the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Training Program (EVITP).
  • Accelerate research on battery technology and support the development of domestic production capabilities. The Chinese government, along with other countries, has used state subsidies and industrial strategies to advance its interests. America must accelerate its own R&D with a focus on developing the domestic supply chain for electric vehicles. A specific focus of Biden’s historic R&D and procurement commitments will be on battery technology – for use in electric vehicles and on our grid, as a complement to technologies like solar and wind – increasing durability, reducing waste, and lowering costs, all while advancing new chemistries and approaches. And Biden will ensure that these batteries are built in the United States by American workers in good, union jobs. 
  • Set a goal that all new American-built buses be zero-emissions by 2030, which will create significant demand for the manufacturing of new, clean American-built buses utilizing American-manufactured inputs – and accelerate the progress by converting all 500,000 school buses in our country — including diesel — to zero emissions. Biden will ensure that the existing — and future — workforce is trained and able to operate and maintain this 21st century infrastructure.
  • Establish ambitious fuel economy standards that save consumers money and cut air pollutionBiden will negotiate fuel economy standards with workers and their unions, environmentalists, industry, and states that achieve new ambition by integrating the most recent advances in technology. This will accelerate the adoption of zero-emissions light- and medium duty vehicles, provide long-term certainty for workers and the industry and save consumers money through avoided fuel costs. Paired with historic public investments and direct consumer rebates for American-made, American-sourced clean vehicles, these ambitious standards will position America to achieve a net-zero emissions future, and position American auto workers, manufacturers, and consumers to benefit from a clean energy revolution in transport.

3. CREATE MILLIONS OF JOBS PRODUCING CLEAN ELECTRIC POWER FOR AMERICAN FAMILIES AND BUSINESSES
 
Transforming the U.S. electricity sector – and electrifying an increasing share of the economy – represents the biggest job creation and economic opportunity engine of the 21st century. These jobs include every kind of worker from scientists to construction workers to electricity generation workers to welders to engineers. Existing iron casting and steel fabrication plants will have new customers in the solar and wind industries. Workers with experience welding and installing complex wiring will have new job opportunities. Properties idled in communities left behind, like brownfields, will once again become critical hubs for the growth of our economy. If we move ambitiously to generate clean, American-made electricity, while building the infrastructure to electrify major sectors of our economy, we will meet the existential threat of climate change, create millions of good union jobs; make economic growth more accessible in every state and across Indian Country, and lead the world in inventing, manufacturing, and exporting clean energy technologies. Biden will:

  • Marshal an historic investment in energy efficiency, clean energy, electrical systems and line infrastructure that makes it easier to electrify transportation, and new battery storage and transmission infrastructure that will address bottlenecks and unlock America’s full clean energy potential – built by American workers, using American-made materials. This revolution in the way we power our economy will leverage the breakthroughs we have already seen in distributed and large-scale renewables, onshore and offshore. And it will put welders, electricians, and other skilled labor to work in good union jobs installing the electrical systems and line infrastructure that helps the power sector – the electricity we generate at our power plants, on our roofs, and in our communities – reach a bigger market of customers and, at the same time, makes it easier for us to electrify in buildings, certain industrial processes, and transportation.
  • Reform and extend the tax incentives we know generate energy efficiency and clean energy jobs; develop innovative financing mechanisms that leverage private sector dollars to maximize investment in the clean energy revolution; and establish a technology-neutral Energy Efficiency and Clean Electricity Standard (EECES) for utilities and grid operators. Paired with his historic, front-loaded investments in the power sector, Biden’s EECES will cut electricity bills and cut electricity pollution, increase competition in the market and incentivize higher utilization of assets – and achieve carbon-pollution free energy in electricity generation by 2035. Biden will scale up best practices from state-level clean energy standards, which are being implemented in a way that provides renewable credits to developers that follow high labor standards, including through Project Labor and Community Labor Agreements and paying prevailing wages. Together, these steps will unleash a clean energy revolution in America, create good paying union jobs that cannot be outsourced, and spur the installation of millions of solar panels – including utility-scale, rooftop, and community solar systems – and tens of thousands of wind turbines – including thousands of turbines off our coasts – in Biden’s first term. It would also mean continuing to leverage the carbon-pollution free energy provided by existing sources like nuclear and hydropower, while ensuring those facilities meet robust and rigorous standards for worker, public, environmental safety and environmental justice.
  • Leverage existing infrastructure and assets. To build the next generation of electric grid transmission and distribution, Biden will prioritize re-powering of lines that already exist with new technology. He will take advantage of existing rights-of-way – along roads and railways – and cut red-tape to promote faster and easier permitting. And he will leverage the breakthroughs we have secured in energy storage over the last decade with historic procurement and investments to bring the future within reach for big utilities and rural cooperatives alike. In addition, and in line with recommendations by climate experts, including a study by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Biden will double down on federal investments and tax incentives for technology that captures carbon and then permanently sequesters or utilizes that captured carbon, which includes lowering the cost of carbon capture retrofits for existing power plants — all while ensuring that overburdened communities are protected from increases in cumulative pollution. He’ll also ensure that the market can access green hydrogen at the same cost as conventional hydrogen within a decade – providing a new, clean fuel source for some existing power plants. 

4. UPGRADE THE BUILDING SECTOR: RETROFITTING BUILDINGS, UPGRADING SCHOOLS, AND BUILDING HOMES ACROSS AMERICA

  • Creating 1 million jobs upgrading 4 million buildings and weatherizing 2 million homes over 4 years. Biden will make an historic investment in energy upgrades of homes, offices, warehouses, and public buildings. This will be a win on multiple levels. It will create at least 1 million construction, engineering and manufacturing jobs, make the places we live, work, and learn healthier, and reduce electricity bills for families, businesses, and local governments. It will improve indoor air quality and indoor environmental health, thus making our buildings safer in the face of future pandemics. At this moment of crisis, when many offices and municipal buildings are shuttered and millions of skilled Americans are out of work, we have a unique, once in a generation opportunity to deliver cost-efficient retrofits in communities across the country.
    • Biden’s plan to upgrade 4 million commercial buildings will return almost a quarter of the savings from those retrofits to cash-strapped state and local governments. This includes mobilizing a trained and skilled American workforce to manufacture, install, service and maintain high-efficiency LED lighting, electric appliances, and advanced heating and cooling systems that run cleaner and less costly – all manufactured in the United States.
    • For families, Biden’s plan will include direct cash rebates and low-cost financing to upgrade and electrify home appliances, install more efficient windows, and cut residential energy bills. Biden will also significantly expand weatherization efforts, reaching over 2 million homes within 4 years, including slashing the disproportionately high energy burden for low-income rural households and rural communities of color.
    • Biden will also repair the building code process with the goal of establishing building performance standards for existing buildings nationwide and support this effort with new funding mechanisms for states, cities, and tribes to adopt strict building codes and labor standards to ensure quality and predictability.
    • Paired with legislation to set a new net-zero emissions standard for all new commercial buildings by 2030, these steps and critical investments in the Build Back Better Plan will accelerate progress to Joe Biden’s target of cutting the carbon footprint of our national building stock in half by 2035.
  • Launching a major, multi-year national effort to modernize our nation’s schools and early learning facilities. For most American children, their public school is like a second home. It should be a place that makes them feel safe and healthy. Yet, American public school facilities received a grade of D+ from the American Society of Civil Engineers. In fact, each year the U.S. underfunds school infrastructure by $46 billion, leaving school districts responsible for the majority of construction costs and pushing long-term debt into the billions nationwide. And by not investing in the infrastructure of our public schools, too many schools are outdated, unsafe, unfit, and – in some cases – making kids and educators sick. Biden’s Build Back Better commitment includes a national effort to upgrade America’s schools and early learning facilities. In line with the Rebuild America’s Schools Act, backed by the House Education and Labor Committee, Biden will make an historic investment to improve public school buildings, with resources weighted to those lower-income rural and urban schools — all too often in communities of color — where the poor quality of school buildings is an additional barrier to equal educational opportunity. Those funds will be deployed with a set of priorities in mind: healthy kids, climate resilience, and creating greater educational equity and job creation in underserved communities. First and foremost, those funds will be used to address health risks, such as improving indoor air quality and ventilation and ensuring access to clean water, so that going to school or working at one never makes anyone sick. Second, additional funding will be used to build cutting-edge, energy-efficient, innovative, climate resilient campuses, which not only have the schools with technology and labs to prepare our students for the jobs of the future, but also become themselves the places that provide communities with green space, clean air, and places to gather, especially during emergencies. He’ll also upgrade child care and early learning facilities around the country that are not safe or developmentally appropriate for young children, who are especially vulnerable to environmental contaminants like lead and mold, and to safety hazards like electrical outlets. Biden’s investments will catalyze thousands of good, union jobs, drawing those workers from the communities most in need of economic development. These investments mean work for local businesses and support for local school districts to reduce capital costs, allowing them to spend more on teaching, learning, and other essential needs to support educators and ensure students are prepared to succeed in tomorrow’s economy.
  • Spurring the construction of 1.5 million homes and public housing units to address the affordable housing crisis, increase energy efficiency, and reduce the racial wealth gap. Biden is building on his housing plan by further increasing the level of federal investment in new affordable, accessible housing construction — including homes for low-income Americans, minority communities, veterans, the elderly, and persons with disabilities. He will ensure these homes are energy efficient from the start – saving the families who live there up to $500 per year. Biden will also drive additional capital into low-income communities to spur the development of affordable housing and small business creation. And, he’ll incentivize smart regional planning that connects housing, transit, and jobs, improving quality of life by cutting commute times, reducing the distance between living and leisure areas, and mitigating climate change. 

5. PURSUE A HISTORIC INVESTMENT IN CLEAN ENERGY INNOVATION
 
A major focus of Biden’s commitment to increase federal procurement by $400 billion in his first term will be purchasing the key clean energy inputs like batteries and electric vehicles that will help position the U.S. as the world’s clean energy leader. And, as part of Biden’s historic commitment to accelerate R&D investment on a scale well beyond the Apollo-program, he will focus on strategic research areas like clean energy, clean transportation, clean industrial processes, and clean materials over the next four years. This funding will drive large-scale innovation in the industries of the future and create new partnerships to empower a generation of entrepreneurs, engineers, and skilled trade workers in all parts of the United States. Biden will invest these new dollars in a way that ensures sustained and sustainable job and small business growth in all parts of America – facilitating the formation of regional ecosystems of innovation, investing in the future of manufacturing communities, playing to each region’s strengths, and pulling in people from diverse backgrounds and skills. These investments will not only help us recover from the economic consequences of the Trump Administration’s dangerous decisions, they will help America build back better – an economy that is less vulnerable to shocks and better able to bounce back from future threats. As part of this effort, Biden will:

  • Create a new Advanced Research Projects Agency on Climate, a new, cross-agency ARPA-C to target affordable, game-changing technologies to help America achieve our 100% clean energy target, including:
    • grid-scale storage at one-tenth the cost of lithium-ion batteries;
    • advanced nuclear reactors, that are smaller, safer, and more efficient at half the construction cost of today’s reactors;
    • refrigeration and air conditioning using refrigerants with no global warming potential;
    • zero net energy buildings at zero net cost, including through breakthroughs in smart materials, appliances, and systems management;
    • using renewables to produce carbon-free hydrogen at a lower cost than hydrogen from shale gas through innovation in technologies like next generation electrolyzers;
    • decarbonizing industrial heat needed to make steel, concrete, and chemicals and reimagining carbon-neutral construction materials;
    • decarbonizing the food and agriculture sector, and leveraging research in soil management, plant biologies, and agricultural techniques to remove carbon dioxide from the air and store it in the ground; and
    • capturing carbon dioxide through direct air capture systems and retrofits to existing industrial and power plant exhausts, followed by permanently sequestering it deep underground or using it to make alternative products like cement.
  • Accelerate innovation in supply-chain resilience by investing in research to bolster and build critical clean energy supply chains in the United States, addressing issues like reliance on rare earth minerals.
  • Invest in our national laboratories, high-performance computing capabilities, and the design and construction of other critical infrastructure at and around those national laboratories and the regional innovation ecosystems and economies that they support.
  • Strengthen land-grant universities, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), and other minority serving institutions (MSIs), expanding facilities, targeting grants, and supporting the training of talent.

6. INVEST IN SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE AND CONSERVATION

  • Mobilizing the next generation of conservation and resilience workers through a Civilian Climate Corps. Biden will put a new, diverse generation of patriotic Americans to work conserving our public lands, bolstering community resilience, and addressing the changing climate, while putting good-paying union jobs within reach for more Americans, including women and people of color. This initiative will be complemented by a new generation of scientists and land managers committed to ecological integrity and natural climate solutions. These workers will use sound, science-based techniques to thin and sustainably manage our forests, making them more resilient to wildfire and enhancing their carbon intake and habitat integrity; restore wetlands to protect clean water supplies and leverage greater flood protection; repair dilapidated irrigation systems to conserve water; plant millions of trees to help reduce heat stress in urban neighborhoods; protect and restore coastal ecosystems, such as wetlands, seagrasses, oyster reefs, and mangrove and kelp forests, to protect vulnerable coastlines, sequester carbon, and support biodiversity and fisheries; enhance the carbon intake of natural and working lands, wetlands, reefs, and underwater mangrove and kelp forests; remove invasive species; improve wildlife corridors; build hiking and biking trails and access to other recreational amenities; and reinvigorate landscapes and seascapes, unlocking economic and climate resilience in places like the Great Lakes, the Everglades, our nation’s great river systems including the Colorado River, and the Gulf of Mexico.
  • Creating more than a quarter million jobs immediately to clean up local economies from the impacts of resource extraction. Biden will direct a front-loaded investment to immediately address the backlog of remediation, reclamation, and restoration needs left behind by the CEOs whose corporations failed to meet their responsibilities to the communities where they operated. Across the country, there are several million unplugged, orphaned, and abandoned oil and gas wells that pose ongoing climate, health, and safety risks in communities. The oil, methane and brine that leaks from these wells contaminates the air and water, and the problem is only getting worse. In addition to these wells, tens of thousands of former mining sites for extraction of coal, hardrock minerals, and uranium are causing ongoing environmental damage including to local surface and groundwater supplies. By making an immediate up-front investment, Biden will create more than 250,000 good jobs with a choice to join a union to plug these oil and gas wells and to restore and reclaim these abandoned coal, hardrock, and uranium mines. This program will create jobs for skilled technicians and operators in some of the hardest hit communities in the country, while reducing leakage of toxic chemicals, methane, and other wastes and preventing local environmental damage. Biden will also hold companies accountable for the environmental damage of their operations, including by clawing back golden parachutes and executive bonuses for companies that shift the environmental burdens of their actions onto taxpayers.
  • Standing up for our farms and ranches. Our family farmers and ranchers were already fighting an uphill battle because of Trump’s irresponsible trade policies and consistent siding with oil lobbyists over American growers, but COVID-19 has placed new pressures on that sector and the rural economies it sustains. Biden will bring back America’s advantage in agriculture, create jobs, and build a bright future for rural communities by investing in the next generation of agriculture and conservation; providing opportunities to new farmers and ranchers, including returning veterans and minorities, to enter the economy; and making it easier to pass farms and ranches onto the next generation, and:
    • Helping farmers leverage new technologies, techniques, and equipment to increase productivity and profit – including by providing low-cost finance for the transition to new equipment and methods, funding research and development in precision agriculture and new crops, and a establishing a new voluntary carbon farming market that rewards farmers for the carbon they sequester on their land and the greenhouse gas emission reductions, including from methane, that they secure. These efforts to partner with farmers will help them tap into develop new income streams as they tackle the challenge of sequestering carbon, reducing emissions, and continue their track record as global leaders in agricultural innovation. Instead of making things harder for farmers, Biden will stand with them as they fight against the threats of climate change, droughts, flooding and extreme weather, while partnering with them to make American agriculture the first in the world to achieve net-zero emissions.
    • Pursuing smarter pro-worker and pro-family-farmer trade policies – knowing the difference between strong and effective trade enforcement and the self-defeating strategy Donald Trump has pursued. Biden will help farmers compete instead of crushing them.
    • Bolstering the security and resilience of our food supply, including by leveraging precision agriculture through regional demonstration projects to minimize the impacts of drought.
    • Making sure small and medium-sized farms and producers have access to fair markets where they can compete and get fair prices for their products – and requiring large corporations play by the rules instead of writing them – by strengthening enforcement of the Sherman and Clayton Antitrust Acts and the Packers and Stockyards Act.
    • Investing in diverse farmers to make our agriculture sector stronger and more resilient. American agriculture is strong in part because of our incredible range of farm types and sizes — and we’ve got to make sure that anyone who wants to serve our country as a farmer can get assistance from USDA. As President, Biden will ensure the U.S. Department of Agriculture ends historical discrimination against Black farmers in federal farm programs and that all socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers have access to programs that support their family farms.
    • Expanding protections for farm workers. Farm workers have always been essential to working our farms and feeding our country. As President, Biden will ensure farm workers are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve, regardless of immigration status. He will work with Congress to provide legal status based on prior agricultural work history and ensure labor and safety rules, including overtime, humane living conditions, and protection from pesticide and heat exposure, are enforced with respect to these particularly vulnerable working people.
    • Building on Biden’s rural plan, which includes proposals to re-invest in land grant universities’ agricultural research so the public, not private companies, owns patents to agricultural advances. 

7. SECURE ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE AND CREATE EQUITABLE ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY
 
Throughout every aspect of Biden’s plan to rebuild a resilient infrastructure and sustainable, clean energy economy, he will prioritize addressing historic, environmental injustice. Biden has a comprehensive environmental justice plan, which includes:

  • Setting a goal that disadvantaged communities receive 40% of overall benefits of spending in the areas of clean energy and energy efficiency deployment; clean transit and transportation; affordable and sustainable housing; training and workforce development; remediation and reduction of legacy pollution; and development of critical clean water infrastructure. In addition, Biden will directly fund historic investments across federal agencies aimed at eliminating legacy pollution — especially in communities of color, rural and urban low-income communities, and tribal communities — and addressing common challenges faced by disadvantaged communities, such as funds for replacing and remediating lead service lines and lead paint in households, child care centers, and schools in order to ensure all communities have access to safe drinking water and wastewater infrastructure. These investments will create good-paying jobs in frontline and fenceline communities. 
  • Creating a data-driven Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool to identify disadvantaged communities, from urban to rural to tribal communities – including those threatened by the cumulative stresses of climate change, economic distress, racial inequality, and multi-source environmental pollution. With the power of data – combined with enhanced monitoring of climate emissions, criteria pollutants, and toxics – Biden will enable agencies and the private sector to make investments in the rural, suburban, and urban communities that need them most. In addition, Biden will instruct his Cabinet to prioritize climate change strategies and technologies that reduce traditional air pollution in the disadvantaged communities identified by the Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool.

Ensure that the Biden Administration prioritizes environmental justice issues and holds polluters accountable. Biden will overhaul and update existing programs at the White House, the Department of Justice, and the Environmental Protection Agency in order to comprehensively address the most pressing, intersectional environmental justice issues and hold polluters accountable. For example, Biden will ensure that frontline and fenceline communities are at the table when enforcement, remediation, and investment decisions affecting those communities are made. Biden will ensure working groups on these issues report directly into the White House, so that communities facing the dual threat of environmental and economic burdens have access to the highest levels of the Biden Administration. And, Biden will establish a new Environmental and Climate Justice Division within the Justice Department, as proposed by Governor Inslee, to complement the work of the Environment and Natural Resources Division and hold polluters accountable.

Trump Overturns Environmental Protections to Speed Development

Climate March protesters try to send Trump a message in White House, April, 2017 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

In the Orwellian name of “modernizing” and throwing around terms like “right-size the Federal Government’s environmental review,” the Trump Administration is overturning and repealing regulations aimed at protecting the environment and mitigating or reversing climate change. At the same time, he is reducing local communities ability to stop or reduce the environmental impacts of development. “By streamlining infrastructure approvals, we’ll further expand America’s unprecedented economic boom,” Trump stated. On the other hand, he has obstructed approvals of vital infrastructure projects in New York and New Jersey, including the Gateway Tunnels under the Hudson River, and a rail-link from the new and improved LaGuardia Airport into Manhattan.

It is a stunning contrast to Biden’s ”Build Back Better”  Plan to Secure Environmental Justice and Equitable Economic Opportunity in a Clean Energy Future

This is a fact sheet from the White House –Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

MODERNIZING ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEWS: For the first time in 40 years, President Donald J. Trump is taking action to right-size the Federal Government’s environmental review process.

The Trump Administration is issuing a final rule that will modernize and accelerate environmental reviews under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), so that infrastructure can be built in a timely, efficient, and affordable manner.

This marks the end of a multi-year review, which produced more than 1.1 million public comments and involved a broad range of stakeholders.

The final rule modernizes Federal NEPA regulations, including by codifying certain court decisions to clarify NEPA’s application and by expanding public involvement in NEPA reviews through the use of modern technology.

The rule also improves management by incorporating President Trump’s One Federal Decision policy, establishing time limits of two years for completion of environmental impact statements, when required, and one year for completion of environmental assessments.

Together, these common sense reforms will slash unnecessary government bureaucracy and accelerate important infrastructure projects all across the Nation.

STREAMLINING INFRASTRUCTURE APPROVALS: The Federal environmental review process has historically been far too complex, costly, and time consuming.

Since NEPA’s enactment, the environmental review process has been burdensome for both Federal agencies conducting reviews and Americans seeking permits or approvals.

Environmental impact statements average over 650 pages, and it takes Federal agencies on average four and a half years to conduct required reviews.

According to the Council on Environmental Quality, environmental impact statements for highway projects take more than seven years on average and often take a decade or more.

NEPA reviews are also frequently challenged in court, making it very challenging for businesses and communities to plan, finance, and build projects in the United States.

CUTTING RED TAPE: President Trump is reversing years of burdensome overregulation and administrative abuse, simultaneously ensuring meaningful environmental reviews and spurring economic growth.

President Trump is making good on his promise to conduct historic deregulation, removing job killing regulations that have stifled economic growth for far too long.

Already the President has reversed burdensome regulations like the Obama Administration’s Waters of the United States rule and Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards.

President Trump also did away with the Obama Administration’s expensive, heavy handed, and job-killing Clean Power Plan, replacing it with the much improved Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) Rule.

The President launched his Governors’ Initiative on Regulatory Innovation to cut outdated regulations, put people over paperwork, and align Federal and State regulations.

Under President Trump, the United States has remained a world leader in protecting the environment and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, while becoming the largest producer of oil and natural gas in the world.

Cuomo Tells Trump to ‘Be Bold & Build’ to Spur Covid-Ravaged Economy, Blasts Washington’s Hyper-Partisanship

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo at the National Press Club, Washington DC, after meeting Trump at the White House, calling for COVID-19 aid to states and localities, repeal of the SALT cap, and a bold infrastructure spending plan (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News-Photos-Features.com

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo, after a meeting with Donald Trump at the White House, chided Washington for politicizing the coronavirus pandemic, and not acting swiftly enough to provide crucial funding to states and localities, especially those – New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Massachusetts, California – where the outbreak of cases and the death toll has been the worst. “This hyper-partisan  Washington  environment is toxic for this country,” he stated in a press briefing shortly afterward at the National Press Club in Washington. He urged government to “do the right thing.”

Senate Republicans, led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, have called such funding a “blue state bail out,” after having allocated billions to friendly industries and funneling millions to connected business interests. He stressed that New York and California, alone, represent one-third of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product, so you don’t have a reenergized economy without them. New York and California are also are the biggest donor states, sending billions of dollars more to taker-states like Kentucky than they get back in federal spending (New York sends $29 billion a year more than it gets back; Kentucky takes $29 billion more than it sends).If the states do not get federal aid, he stresseded, they will be forced to cut spending for hospitals, schools, police and fire – all the services most essential during a public health crisis – and excess thousands of workers, which won’t do the unemployment rate much good. Or, he said, the federal government can use this time as Franklin Roosevelt did during the Great Depression, to finally build the big, bold infrastructure projects that have been put on back-burners for 30 years.

Cuomo noted that the The House of Representatives has already passed its Heroes bill that includes $500 billion for states and $375 billion for locals; Medicaid funding for the most vulnerable; increased SNAP food assistance; 100 percent FEMA federal assistance; funding for testing; and repeals SALT cap to help states most affected by COVID-19, “the politically motivated first double tax in U.S. history” that was implemented by the federal tax law in 2017.

The Governor also renewed his call for Congress to pass the ‘Americans First Law’ to help prevent corporate bailouts following the COVID-19 pandemic. First proposed by the Governor on May 10th, the legislation states that a corporation cannot be eligible to receive government funding if it doesn’t maintain the same number of employees that the corporation had before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cuomo also urged President Trump to support a real public infrastructure program and to advance infrastructure projects in New York — including the LaGuardia AirTrain, the Cross-Hudson Tunnels, and the Second Avenue Subway expansion — to help supercharge the economy.

He listed a series of projects in New York State that are ready to go – including the LaGuardia AirTrain, the Cross-Hudson Tunnels, and the Second Avenue Subway expansion – that are just awaiting federal approval “to help supercharge the economy.” Significantly, Trump earlier has told agencies to dispense with regulations that are obstacles to speedy development, and during the 2016 campaign, boasted he would be the builder, with a $1 trillion infrastructure spending plan.

Cuomo also renewed his call for ‘Americans First Law’ which would require any company that takes government funding to rehire the same number of employees it had before the COVID-19 pandemic, and not use the pandemic to “right-size” or “downsize” and cut costs to increase profits.

“Washington is now debating their next bill that would aid in the reopening and the recovery. Prior bills have helped businesses, large businesses, small businesses, hotels, airlines, all sorts of business interests,” Cuomo said. “That’s great but you also have states and local governments and state governments do things like fund schools and fund hospitals. Do you really want to cut schools now? Do you really want to cut hospitals now after what we have just gone through when we are talking about a possible second wave, when we are talking about a fall with possible more cases? Do you really think we should starve state governments and cut hospitals? Would that be smart? Do you really want to cut local governments right now? That is cutting police. That is cutting fire. Is now the time to savage essential services and don’t you realize that if do you this, if you cut state and local governments and you cause chaos on the state and local level, how does that help a nation striving to recover economically?

“The Covid states, the states that bore the brunt of the Covid virus are one third of the national GDP. How can you tell one third of the country to go to heck and then think you’re going to see an economic rebound? Also, state governments, state economies, local economies, that is what the national economy is made of. What is the national economy but for a function of the states? There is no nation without the states. They tend to forget that in this town. But it is the obvious fact and we have made this mistake before.

“Again, look at history. If you don’t learn from your mistakes you are going to repeat the mistakes. It is that simple and we have seen in the past what has happened when state and local governments were savaged and how it hurt the national recovery. Wall Street Journal, not exactly a liberal publication, makes the point that on the economy cuts to employment and spending likely to weigh on growth for years. So even if you believe the rhetoric we are about reopening, we are about getting the economy back, great. Then if that is what you believe you would provide funding to the state and local governments.

“The Federal Reserve Chairman Powell, very smart man respected on both sides of the aisle, said we have evidence the global financial crisis in the years afterward where state and local government layoffs and lack of hiring weighed on economic growth. We want to reopen the economy. We want to get this national economy better than ever. Fine. Then act accordingly and act appropriately.

“This hyper-partisan Washington environment is toxic for this country. You have people saying, well don’t want to pass a bill that we continue don’t want to pass a bill that helps Democratic states. It would be a blue state bailout is what some have said. Senator McConnell, stopping blue state bailouts. Senator Scott, we’re supposed to go bail them out? That’s not right. On Fox TV, Laffer, you want us to give our money to Cuomo and New York? Hello, not this week.

“First of all, this is really an ugly, ugly sentiment. It is an un-American response. We’re still the United States of America. Those words meant something. United States of America. First of all, Mr. federal legislator, you’re nothing without the states, and you represent the United States. Not only is it ugly, it is false. It is wholly untrue, what they are saying, 100 percent. And there are facts, if you want to pose the question, which is, I think, divisive at this period of time.

“But if you want to pose the question, what states give money and what states take money? Right? There is a financial equation that is the federal government. And if you want to ask, what states give money to other states and what states take money from other states, that’s a question that Senator McConnell and Senator Scott and Mr. Laffer don’t really want to ask, because the truth, the truth is totally the opposite of what they’re saying. You look at the states that give more money to the federal government than they get back. You know the top, what they call donor state, you know what one state pays in more to the pot than they take out to the federal pot than any other state than the United States? It’s the State of New York. New York pays more every year, $29 billion more, than they take back. You know the second state, New Jersey. Massachusetts, Connecticut, California, every year, they contribute more to the federal pot. You know who takes out more than they put in from that pot? You know whose hand goes in deeper and takes out than they put in? Virginia, Maryland, Kentucky, Alabama, Florida. Those are the facts, those are the numbers.

“The great irony is, the conservatives want to argue against redistribution of wealth. Why should you take money from the rich and give it to the poor? That’s exactly what you are doing. That is exactly what you have done every year. So it’s only redistribution unless you wind up getting more money. Then it’s fine, then it’s not redistribution. Take from the rich, give to the poor, that’s redistribution, yes, unless you’re the poor, Senator McConnell, Senator Scott because you were the ones who have your hand out. You were the ones who are taking more than others. Redistribution, you’re against it, except when the richer states give you more money every year. Then the great hypocrisy, they actually make the redistribution worse when they passed three years ago a provision ending what’s called state and local tax deductibility. That didn’t level the playing field. 

“What they did was they took the states that were already paying more money into the federal government, the quote, unquote richer states and they increased the money they were taking from the richer states. They took another $23 billion from California and another $14 billion from New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Illinois, Connecticut. The hypocrisy is so insulting because when you start to talk about numbers, there is still facts. People can still add and people can still subtract and they know what they put in and they know what they take out. 

“I know it’s Washington, D.C. but the truth actually still matters. Americans are smart and they find out the truth even in the fog and the blather of Washington, DC. My point to our friends in the Congress: Stop abusing New York. Stop abusing New Jersey. Stop abusing Massachusetts and Illinois and Michigan and Pennsylvania. Stop abusing the states who bore the brunt of the Covid virus through no fault of their own. Why did New York have so many cases. It’s nothing about New York. It’s because the virus came from Europe and no one in this nation told us.”

Cuomo hit back on suggestions that the state was at fault for having so many COVID-19 cases – indeed, more than almost any other nation, at 364,965, including 1129 cases added the day before, from 45 counties. Indeed, though Trump had intelligence briefings in January, he downplayed the threat and even later, only looked to China as a source, so the country’s attention was focused on cases in Washington and California. 

“We were told the virus is coming from China. It’s coming from China, look to the West. We were looking to the West it came from the East. The virus left China, went to Europe. Three million Europeans come to New York, land in our airports January, February, March and bring the virus. And nobody knew. It was not New York’s job. We don’t do international, global health. It didn’t come from China. It came from Europe and we bore the brunt of it. Now, you want to hold that against us because we bore the brunt of a national mistake? And because we had more people die? We lost more lives and you want to now double the insult and the injury by saying, ‘Well, why should we help those states? Those states had more Covid deaths.’ That’s why you’re supposed to help those states because they did have more Covid deaths and this is the United States and when one state has a problem, the other states help. 

“I was in the federal government for eight years. When Los Angeles had earthquakes, we helped. When the Midwest had the Red River floods, we helped. When Florida had Hurricane Andrew, we helped. When Texas had floods, we helped. When Louisiana had Hurricane Katrina, we helped. We didn’t say “well, that is Louisiana’s fault. They had the hurricane. Well, that is Texas’s fault, they had the floods.” It was nobody’s fault. And we were there to help because that is who we are and that is what we believe. What happened to that American spirit? What happened to that concept of mutuality?

“You know there still a simple premise that you can’t find in a book, and Washington hasn’t written regulations for, called doing the right thing. There is still a right thing in life. The right thing you feel inside you. The right thing is calibration of your principle and your belief and your soul and your heart and your spirit. And we do the right thing in this country, not because a law says do the right thing, but because we believe in doing the right thing. As individuals, as people, we believe in doing right by each other, by living your life by a code where you believe you are living it in an honorable way, acting on principle, and you are doing the right thing.

“Why can’t the government? Why can’t the Congress reflect the right thing principle that Americans live their life by? Pass a piece of legislation that is honorable and decent and does the right thing for all Americans. Why is that so hard? And if you want to talk about reopening the economy, then do it in a productive way. People think this economy is just going to bounce back. I don’t think it is going to bounce back. I think it will bounce back for some, and I think there will be collateral damage of others. We already know that tens of thousands of small businesses closed and probably won’t come back. We already know the large corporations are going to lay off thousands and thousands of workers, and they are going to use this pandemic as an excuse to get lean, to restructure, and they will boost their profits by reducing their payroll.

“We know it. We have been there before. We saw this in the 2008 Mortgage Crisis where the government bailed them out, the big banks that created the problem, and they used the money to pay themselves bonuses and they laid off their workers. They will do is same thing again that. That is why I propose the Americans First legislation that said a corporation can’t get a dime of government bailout unless they rehire the same number of workers they had pre-pandemic as post. Don’t take a gift from the taxpayer and then lay off Americans who are going to file for unemployment insurance paid for by the taxpayers. Don’t do that again.

“And if you want to be smart, we know that there is work to do in this nation. We have known it for years. You can fill a library with the number of books on the infrastructure and the decay of our infrastructure and how many roads and bridges have to be repaired, how this nation is grossly outpaced by nations across the world in terms of infrastructure, airports and development. Now is the time to stimulate the economy by doing that construction and doing that growth. You want to supercharge the reopening? That’s how do you it. This nation was smart enough to do it before. We did it in the midst of the great depression. We created 8 million jobs. We built an infrastructure that we’re still living on today. We’re still living on the infrastructure built by our grandparents, not even our parents. What are we going to leave our children? And now is the time to do it.

“We have major infrastructure projects in New York that are ready to go, that are desperately needed, that were desperately needed 30 years ago. Build them now. Supercharge the reopening. Grow the economy. That’s what we would do if we were smart. You’re not going to have a supercharged economy. You’re not going to see this nation get up and start running again, unless we do it together. That’s states working with other states. That’s a federal government that stands up and puts everything else aside.

“They were elected to provide good government. Nobody elected anyone to engage in partisan politics. There was a time when as a nation we were smart enough to say, “You want to play politics? That’s what a campaign is for.” Run your campaign against your opponent. Say all sorts of crazy things. That’s crazy campaign time. But when government starts, stop the politics, and do what’s right and smart. Don’t play your politics at the expense of the citizens you represent. There is no good government concept anymore. It’s politics 365 days a year. From the moment they’re elected to the moment they run again, it’s all politics. And that is poison. We have to get to a point, if only for a moment, if only for a moment, if only for a moment in response to a national crisis where we say it’s not red and blue. It’s red, white, and blue. It’s the United States and we’re going to act that way.

“In New York we say that by saying New York tough, but it’s America tough. Which is smart, and united, and disciplined, and loving, and loving.”

Cuomo said that the ninth of 10 regions, Long Island, began reopening today, joining Mid-Hudson Valley which opened yesterday, the Capital Region, Western New York, Central New York, North Country, Finger Lakes, Southern Tier and Mohawk Valley Regions, which all have met the seven metrics required for Phase One of a multi-phase process. Each of the regions has to have a monitoring commission in place to make sure reopening does not trigger new outbreaks, and that any upticks are addressed.

New York City still has more metrics to complete before it can begin its formal reopening, though the New York Stock Exchange did reopen yesterday.

Governor Cuomo: “States are responsible for the enforcement of all the procedures around reopening but at the same time the federal government has a role to play and the federal government has to do its part as we work our way through this crisis. There cannot be at national recovery if the state and local governments are not funded.”

See also: Politicizing a Pandemic

________________________

© 2020 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures. ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Democratic Race for 2020: Mayor Pete Buttigieg Releases ‘Building for 21st Century’ Infrastructure Plan

Mayor Pete Buttigieg released his “Building for the 21st Century” comprehensive infrastructure plan. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The vigorous contest of Democrats seeking the 2020 presidential nomination has produced excellent policy proposals to address major issue. It is estimated that the United States requires some $2 trillion in infrastructure investment just to keep bridges from falling down, make necessary improvements to water systems, electric systems, not to mention transition to sustainable systems that both mitigate against climate change and take the necessary steps to get to net-zero carbon emissions to stop the march to global warming. Mayor Pete Buttigieg released his “Building for the 21st Century” comprehensive infrastructure plan. It does not use the word “climate”; it refers to “sustainable” once. This is from the Buttigieg campaign:

Pete Buttigieg released “Building for the 21st Century,” a bold, comprehensive infrastructure plan that will create more economic opportunities for individuals and communities. His plan will create 6 million well-paying jobs, ensure that everyone has access to clean drinking water and affordable ways to get to work and empower local communities to lead on infrastructure development so that they can support safe, vibrant, growing neighborhoods.

“The current administration has been incapable of keeping its promise to pass major infrastructure legislation, and as a result, critical projects around the country are stalled and communities are paying the price,” said Buttigieg. “Cities and towns have been leading the way on new infrastructure partnerships and approaches, but too often the federal government does not help as it should—failing to fund and prioritize infrastructure and relying on outdated standards. Under my administration, local governments will finally have a partner in Washington. As a former mayor, I know that priority-based budgets made locally are better than budget-based priorities set in Washington.” 

Pete’s administration will invest over $1 trillion to work with states, cities, and other local governments to build the sustainable infrastructure of the 21st century. Pete’s plan will:

Create six million well-paying jobs with strong labor protections, especially in underrepresented communities. 

Commit $10 billion to attract and train a skilled infrastructure workforce, including by supporting pre-apprenticeship programs that collaborate with Registered Apprenticeships. 

Protect millions of families from lead in paint and water through a $100 billion investment in a Lead-Safe Communities Fund. The Fund will provide resources for communities to clean up and remove lead in paint, soil, and water. Pete administration’s will also replace 3 million lead service lines by 2030 and support best-in-class corrosion control practices. 

Lower water bills for over 10 million families. Pete will work with Congress to create a $16 billion Drinking Water Assistance Matching Fund that coordinates with the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program. The Fund will provide a federal funding match for states and local water systems that assist low-income families with water bill payments, slashing the average water bill by 50 percent – which is equal to over $600 on average – for 10 million families. 

Invest $160 billion to support cities and towns in providing equitable public transportation, including improved options for subway, light rail, bus rapid transit, and last mile service. Pete will provide dedicated funding for communities that have limited access to basic services like grocery stores to expand their transportation options. He will also dramatically expand funding for rural public transportation.

Cut the backlog of critical road repairs in half over 10 years. Pete will make sure that 50% of our roads in poor condition and structurally deficient bridges get fixed within 10 years. His DOT will require states to develop achievable plans for maintaining their roads and make progress on these plans before they use federal funds for new roads or expansions. 

Repair school infrastructure. Investing in K-12 education means investing in our schools, so students can learn in a safe and healthy environment. Pete will invest $80 billion in a new school repair program, in which states allocate grants and loans to school districts based on poverty levels. He will provide dedicated funding to help meet U.S. trust and treaty obligations to repair the Bureau of Indian Education schools. 

Mitigate past injustices in transportation planning. Since the 1950s, highway expansion projects have split apart Black and Latino neighborhoods nationwide and driven up pollution in these communities. Pete’s DOT will work with local stakeholders and nonprofits to create a list of communities that require additional investment to mitigate harms from past highway projects. He will encourage cities to use federal highway funds to revitalize and reconnect communities through innovative projects, including new underpass designs, highway caps, and turning underutilized bridges into complete urban streets.   

Pete’s agenda will build a new era of economic success that truly uplifts America’s working and middle-class families. Read the full agenda HERE

Cuomo Takes Bow in Delivering on Justice Agenda, Calling Legislative Session ‘Most Productive in Modern Political History’

New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo took a deserved bow in delivering on the Justice Agenda he laid out at his inauguration, calling this year’s Legislative Session “the most productive in modern political history.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo took a deserved bow in announcing historic progressive accomplishments during this year’s Legislative Session, delivering on his 2019 Justice Agenda first laid out in December, and calling it “the most productive in modern political history.”

“These sweeping reforms will ensure social and economic justice for all New Yorkers, address the devastating impact of climate change, support New York’s ongoing commitment to workers’ rights, modernize transportation systems across the state, and enhance the Empire State’s nation-leading commitment to gender equity and LGBTQ rights. All of this was done while enacting fiscally responsible policies including holding spending growth to 2 percent for the ninth consecutive year, enacting a permanent property tax cap and cutting taxes for the middle class,” the governor’s office stated.

“Six months ago we laid out our 2019 Justice Agenda – an aggressive blueprint to move New York forward – and today I’m proud to say we got it done,” Governor Cuomo said. “At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is what you accomplish, and this was the most progressively productive legislative session in modern history. The product was extraordinary, and we maintained our two pillars – fiscal responsibility and economic growth paired with social progress on an unprecedented and nation-leading scale.”

Here’s a synopsis:

Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act: This legislation enacts the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, creating the most aggressive climate change program in the nation with goals to: reach zero carbon emissions in the electricity sector by 2040; install 9 GW of offshore wind by 2035; 6GW of solar by 2025; 3 GW of energy storage by 2030; and directs state entities to work toward a goal of investing 40 percent of clean energy and energy efficiency resources to benefit disadvantaged communities. Additionally, the law creates the Climate Action Council comprised of the leaders of various state agencies and authorities as well as legislative appointments to develop a plan outlining how the state will achieve an 85% reduction in GHG emissions from 1990 levels by 2050, and eventually net zero emissions in all sectors of the economy. 

Permanent Property Tax Cap: Made permanent the 2% property tax cap, building upon the approximate $25 billion in taxpayer savings since it was implemented in 2012.

MTA Money and Management: Funded the MTA with an estimated $25 billion raised through Central Business District tolling, a new progressive mansion tax, and the elimination of the internet tax advantage. Implemented overdue MTA reforms including the developing a reorganization plan, modifying MTA Board appointments to align with appointing authority, requiring the MTA to undergo an independent forensic audit and efficiency review, and calling for a major construction review unit made up of outside experts to review major projects.

Advancing LGBTQ Rights: Governor Cuomo is enacting transformative legislation in support of LGBTQ rights, including the elimination of the gay and trans panic defense—closing a loophole in state law that allowed individuals to use the gay and trans panic defenses after attacking another based upon that victim’s gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation. The Governor also enacted into law the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) and a ban on LGBTQ conversion therapy.

Establish a Farmworkers Bill of Rights: This legislation established a farmworkers bill of rights, granting overtime pay, a rest day and the right to unionize.

Enact Additional Sexual Harassment Protections: This package of reforms will lower the high bar set for employees to hold employers accountable under the New York Human Rights Law for sexual harassment by amending the requirement that conduct be “severe or pervasive” to constitute actionable conduct; extend the statute of limitations for employment sexual harassment claims filed with the Division of Human Rights from one year to three years; and protect employees’ rights to pursue complaints by mandating that all non-disclosure agreements in employment contracts include language stating that employees may still participate in government investigations conducted by local, state, and federal anti-discrimination agencies

Expand Statutes of Limitations for Rape: Statutes of limitations on rape cases impose a ticking clock on how long victims are able to come forward if they want to seek charges. Over the last year, victims who have suffered in silence for decades have bravely spoken about their abuse, and also have laid bare the state’s limited ability to prosecute their abusers due to the passage of time. In recognition of this fact, states across the country are lengthening or eliminating the statutes of limitations on crimes of sexual violence. This legislation extends the statute of limitations for Rape in the Second Degree and Third Degree, and expand the civil statute of limitations for claims related to these offenses, allowing victims greater opportunity to obtain justice.

Closing the Gender Wage Gap: Since taking office, Governor Cuomo has fought aggressively to increase safeguards for women in the workplace and close the gender pay gap in New York. This package of reforms includes legislation to expand the definition of “equal pay for equal work” to prohibit unequal pay on the basis of a protected class for all substantially similar work and to close any loopholes employers try to use to pay people less on the basis of their gender, race or other protected classes; as well as a salary history ban, which prohibits employers from asking or relying on salary history of applicants and employees in making job offers or determining wages.

Reauthorize and Expand the MWBE Program: The Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprise program has been highly successful since its inception, establishing the highest goals for MWBE participation in the entire nation and awarding thousands of state contracts to minority-owned and women-owned businesses. This legislation reauthorizes the MWBE program and extends the provisions of law relating to the participation of MWBEs in state contracts to ensure this effective program continues.

Tenant Protections: This package of reforms, known as Housing Stability and Tenant Protection act of 2019, enacts the most sweeping, aggressive tenant protections in state history, safeguarding affordable housing for millions of New Yorkers.

Remove the Non-Medical Exemptions for Vaccines: The United States is currently experiencing the worst outbreak of measles in more than 25 years, with outbreaks in pockets of New York primarily driving the crisis. As a result of non-medical vaccination exemptions, many communities across New York have unacceptably low rates of vaccination, and those unvaccinated children can often attend school where they may spread the disease to other unvaccinated students. This new law will remove non-medical exemptions from school vaccination requirements for children and help protect the public amid this ongoing outbreak.

Ensuring Quality Education: School aid increased by over $1 billion, bringing total school aid to a record $27.9 billion. In addition, new reporting requirements will address imbalances in the distribution of resources by prioritizing funding at the individual school level in order to advance a more transparent, equitable education system.

Makes the Jose R. Peralta DREAM Act a Reality: Finally opens the doors of higher education to thousands of New Yorkers by giving undocumented New York students the same advantages given to their citizen peers, including access to the Tuition Assistance Program and state administered scholarships such as Excelsior.

Expands Eligibility for the Excelsior Scholarship Free Tuition Program: As the state’s successful free tuition program enters its third year, students whose families make up to $125,000 annually will now be eligible to apply for the program, allowing more than 55 percent of full-time, in-state SUNY and CUNY students—or more than 210,000 New York residents—to attend college tuition-free when combined with TAP assistance.

Criminal Justice Reform: Sweeping criminal justice reform was delivered by eliminating cash bail for misdemeanors and non-violent offenses, ensuring the right to a speedy trial, and transforming the discovery process.

Continued Investment in Infrastructure: Builds upon the Governor’s unprecedented commitment to invest $150 billion in infrastructure projects over the next five years.

Delivering on the Gateway Tunnel Project: This legislation establishes the Gateway Development Commission and creates a comprehensive rail investment program for purposes of the project. This bi-state effort, in cooperation with New Jersey, represents significant progress on a crucial project for our nation’s economy and security while restoring our role as a global leader in infrastructure.

Protecting the Environment: The launch of the Green New Deal—the most aggressive environmental protection initiative in the nation, the ban of single-use plastic bags, launch of the food waste recycling program and investment of an additional $500 million in clean water infrastructure, increasing the State’s historic investment to $3 billion, all of which serves to protect New Yorkers while combatting some of the most pressing threats to the environment.

Keeping New Yorkers Healthy: By codifying provisions of the Affordable Care Act, New Yorkers can rest assured that their health needs will be covered, regardless of Washington’s actions.

Supporting Workers’ Rights: Extended Janus protections to all local governments and guaranteed the right to organize and collectively bargain.

Promoting the Democracy Agenda: To boost New York’s voter turnout and ensure that New York’s elections remain fair and transparent, the following initiatives were enacted this year: synchronized federal and state elections, pre-registration for minors, early voting, universal transfer of registration, and the advancement of no-excuse absentee voting, and same-day registration.

Common Sense Gun Reform: Building upon the SAFE Act—the strongest gun control legislation in the country—additional measures were enacted this year to ensure guns were kept out of the wrong hands, including the Red Flag Bill, ban on bump stocks, and extending the background check waiting period.

Signing the Child Victims Act: The signing of this long-awaited legislation provided necessary relief to child victims of sexual abuse by amending New York’s antiquated laws to ensure that perpetrators are held accountable for their actions, regardless of when the crime occurred.

Closing the LLC Loophole: Closed the LLC loophole by limiting political spending by an LLC to a total of $5,000 annually, which is the same limit as corporations. The new law also requires the disclosure of direct and indirect membership interests in the LLC making a contribution, and for the contribution to be attributed to that individual.

2019 Women’s Justice Agenda Accomplishments: With the passage of the Reproductive Health Act, Comprehensive Coverage Contraceptive Act, and the Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act, as well as the ban on revenge porn, and strengthened protections for breastfeeding in the workplace, Governor Cuomo continued his commitment to ensuring fairness and equality for women across New York State.

New capital funding investments this year include:

  • Full Funding for Extreme Winter Recovery: $65 million in State funding for the Extreme WINTER Recovery program. Provides enhanced assistance to local governments for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of local highways and roads impacted by New York State’s harsh winter weather. This unprecedented infrastructure investment in local roads and bridges is in addition to the $478 million in State funding provided through the CHIPS and Marchiselli programs, and $200 million for PAVE-NY and Bridge NY.
  • $120 Million Public Housing Investment: Building on the State’s unprecedented $550 million investment in the New York City Housing Authority, the Governor and Legislature are providing an additional $100 million in capital funding to help support its ongoing transformation while providing $20 million to support housing authorities and other housingoutside of New York City.
  • $100 Million for the Lake Ontario Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative: The Governor and Legislature are providing $100 million in capital funding to support the State’s up to $300 million commitment to communities impacted by Lake Ontario Flooding. Launched last month, the REDI Commission is working with localities along the shoreline to identify and support projects that will reduce the flooding risk to infrastructure while strengthening the region’s local economies.
  • $20 Million for the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority: A $20 million capital appropriation is provided to support the first year of a five-year $100 million commitment from the Governor and Legislature to theNFTA to fund a five-year capital plan for maintenance and improvements of Metro Rail.
  • Penn Station 33rd Street Entrance: $425 million in capital funding will support the Penn Station 33rd Street Entrance project, and others associated with improvements to the Long Island Railroad. Just last month, the Governor unveiled final design renderings for the new main entrance to Penn Station located at 33rd street and 7th Avenue, which will provide much needed direct access to the LIRR Main Concourse and the New York City Subway.
  • $20 Million Investment in Public Libraries: A $20 million capital appropriation to public libraries will help libraries across New York State as they continue to transform into 21st century community hubs.
  • $30 Million for Higher Education Capital Matching Grant Program: A $30 million capital appropriation will support the Higher Education Capital Matching Grant Program, which under the Governor’s leadership is enabling independent colleges across the state to make critical investments in their infrastructure and equipment by providing matching capital grants.
  • $25 million Security Investment to Protect Against Hate Crimes: A $25 million capital appropriation is included for security projects at nonpublic schools, community centers, residential camps, and day care facilities at risk of hate crimes because of their ideology, beliefs, or mission.

New York to Award $2.5 Million Prizes in Global Competition to Reimagine State’s Canal System for Economic Development, Tourism

Recreational uses on The Erie Canal like MidLakes Navigation’s canalboats have brought economic revitalization for canaltowns like Fairport in upstate New York © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

New York State is holding a global competition to find the best ideas to re-imagine the New York State Canal System so it becomes an engine for economic growth upstate as well as a world-class tourist destination. The competition, run by the New York Power Authority and New York State Canal Corporation, is awarding up to $2.5 million to develop and implement the winning ideas.

“The Canal System is a vital part of New York’s storied past and it is critical that it continues to be an essential component of our state’s future,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said. “We’re looking for bold and innovative ideas that ensure the canal system and its surrounding communities can grow and prosper and with this competition, we encourage bright minds from across the globe to contribute their best ideas to help bring this piece of history to new heights.”

“Originally labeled Clinton’s Folly, the Erie Canal went on to become one of the most significant transportation milestones in our history, putting Upstate NY on the path to a century of prosperity,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. “It is fitting that now, as we celebrate its bicentennial, we re-imagine how this iconic Canal can once again become an engine for economic growth across New York State.”

The competition was announced as New York continues the celebration of the bicentennial of the beginning of construction on the Erie Canal, in Rome, N.Y., on July 4, 1817. Next year, the State will mark the centennial of the 524-mile state Canal System, which includes the Erie, Champlain, Cayuga-Seneca and Oswego canals.

“There are many people in the public and private sector who are passionate about the canals,” said Gil C. Quiniones, president and CEO of the New York Power Authority, which operates the state Canal System as a subsidiary. “We want to translate that passion into sustainable projects that will make the canal corridor bigger and better.”

Quiniones unveiled the competition today at the World Canals Conference in Syracuse, where hundreds of canal experts and enthusiasts from three continents are meeting this week.

“The building of the Erie Canal took persistence, vision and overcoming deep skepticism, but its construction transformed this nation,” Brian U. Stratton, New York State Canal Corporation director said. “Now, we want to transform the canals so they become go-to travel and recreation destinations. The entries can come from anywhere. Good ideas have no boundaries.”

The goals of the competition include soliciting programs and initiatives that promote:

  • The Canal System and its trails as a tourist destination and recreational asset for New York residents and visitors;
  • Sustainable economic development along the Canal System;
  • The Canal System’s heritage; and
  • The long-term financial sustainability of the Canal Corporation

The competition will seek entries on two separate tracks, one for infrastructure; the other for programs that have the potential to increase recreation use and tourism.

In the first round, entrants will provide information about how their proposal meets core competition goals and outlines the applicant’s qualifications. Finalists will each receive $50,000 to implement their ideas for the second round, where they will partner with either a municipality along the Canal System or a non-profit engaged in canal-related work. A panel of judges will select two or more winners to receive between $250,000 and $1.5 million to plan their projects and implement them.

Submissions for the first round are due Dec. 4. The final winners will be announced next spring.

For more information, go to www.reimaginethecanals.com.

Climate Disasters Should Force Re-think of Trump (‘Cheater-in-Chief’) Tax Plan

How will the nation fund the recovery from the increasingly devastating climate disasters? The lates record-breaking climate catastrophes, Harvey and Irma, should cause re-thinking of the investment in climate action and Trump’s plan to cut taxes for the wealthiest © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

Hurricane Harvey had just devastated Texas, the worst natural disaster up until two weeks later when the entire state of Florida was about to be destroyed by Hurricane Irma, as whole Caribbean island nations as well as the US territory of Puerto Rico had their infrastructure utterly decimated. And Hurricane Jose was on Irma’s tail. Meanwhile, Los Angeles and Oregon were being consumed by record wildfires. Congress had authorized $15 billion toward Hurricane Harvey relief and to replenish the nearly depleted funds of FEMA.

Indeed, in North Dakota on September 6, as Hurricane Irma was barreling toward Florida, Trump, the Tax-Cheat-in-Chief, gave an incoherent speech touting his tax plan that began with his incredulity in discovering that North Dakota was undergoing a massive drought.

“I just said to the governor, I didn’t know you had droughts this far north.  Guess what?  You have them.  But we’re working hard on it and it’ll disappear.  It will all go away,” Trump said.

Accuweather is projecting the cost of Harvey and Irma alone at $290 billion, or 1.5% of total GDP, which would erase the growth of the economy through year-end, according to Dr. Joel N. Myers, president and chairman.

That’s also more than one-fourth of the $1 trillion that Trump proposed for a 10-year infrastructure plan. Where will the money come from? And if all infrastructure spending has to be directed to Texas and Florida, where does that leave the rest of the country? Not to mention the $1 billion Trump is demanding as down payment on a $70 billion border wall.

Does this get you thinking that Trump and his administration, especially EPA Administrator and shill for the oil industry Scott Pruitt, should rethink their self-serving notion of climate change denial (self-serving because it is used to fuel their argument that they can overturn environmental regulations on the massively profitable fossil fuel industry)? Of course not.

But it should also cause them to rethink their totally corrupt plan for tax reform which is intended to starve the federal government of funds, balloon the budget deficit and national debt, all to shift more of wealth to the already fabulously wealthy. Especially when so many people have lost their businesses and jobs, which will certainly impact tax revenues.

Let’s just consider for a moment what taxes are supposed to be for. And yes, a considerable amount goes to pay for interest on bonds, but bonds are what are used to pay for infrastructure – they represent an investment in the future. And as we are considering how to replace the destroyed and decimated infrastructure, why not build back with sustainability in mind.

Just as in his speech declaring his decision to withdraw the US from the Paris Climate Agreement (forged with US leadership and signed by 195 countries), Trump, who took a $900 million tax deduction on his failed Atlantic City casino and probably has never paid 40% tax in his life,lies to rationalize his tax plan, beginning with the lie that the US is the highest taxed nation in the world (not true) and that workers wages will increase if only shareholders and CEOs and the wealthiest 1% could keep an even greater percentage of their money (history shows the opposite).  (See New York Times, The False Promises in President Trump’s Tax Plan)

Remember: the wealthiest people used to be taxed at 90% – that was after World War II when the nation had to rebuild its treasury. We were able to afford the GI Bill which probably did more to create a middle class than anything since the New Deal. Now the wealthiest pay something between 35 to 40% – except that they don’t.

Trump (and Ryan) want to give a $170,000 annual windfall to the wealthiest Americans, while crumbs ($700) to the middle class who will lose the only tax deductions they can use.  $170,000 times four years worth mean in terms of free money (from tax-paying schnooks) is a lot of dough to invest in politicians and policy with a spectacular return: policies like enabling Big Pharma Sharks to hike up life-saving drugs by 5000%; Oil Barons to make sure incentives for wind and solar energy don’t help these industries develop into competitors; real estate developers who can delight in the tax advantages that let them take a $900 million deduction and build without interfering regulations on lands that are needed to soak up flood waters and health insurance companies to raise premiums to pad profits.

Now this nation is looking at more than $290 billion just to recover from the climate disasters which are becoming more and more frequent, hitting the high density developed urban centers.

If taxes for those who have the means to pay don’t cover the cost, who does? Ryan and the Republicans love to talk about “sacrifice” but the only ones they demand sacrifices from are not the wealthiest or the corporations, but Social Security and Medicare recipients, struggling middle class kids who need to take out loans to pay for college. Their concept is to take money out of the consumer economy, which starts a downward unvirtuous cycle of economic contraction. How do we know?” Because we have seen this movie before: the Bush tax cuts. Meanwhile, median income has risen to its highest levels in 1999 (under Bill Clinton) and 2016 (under Barack Obama) and their tax-and-spending plans.

The Trump/Ryan tax “plan” requires a federal budget that slashes spending for infrastructure, for research and development, for education, for environmental protection (and of course, eradicating any mention of climate change), even slashing spending for diplomacy and foreign aid. It depends on slashing Medicaid and subsidies to keep health insurance affordable (that’s why they are so desperate to repeal Obamacare).

It slashes the tax rate for corporations which already do not pay the nominal 35% rate. Many highly profitable corporations – including General Electric, Pepco Holdings, PG&E Corp., Priceline and Duke Energy – paid nothing into federal coffers from 2008-2015 yet benefit from all the services the government provides including roads, public safety, an educated workforce, mass transit, a military to defend their shipping.

To get to a tax cut without obscenely increasing the national debt, the Republicans say they will get rid of “loopholes” like the mortgage credit and property taxes – that would only complete the decimation of the Middle Class and destroy any semblance of an American Dream. What would make more sense, if they really cared to “reform” the tax code and stop the income distribution from middle class to the already fabulous rich, is to take away the mortgage tax credits on 2nd, 3rd homes and such, and take away the many special deductions that real estate developers like Trump has benefited from, as well as the loopholes that let hedge fund managers shield all but a fraction of their income from taxes that wage-earners pay.

Indeed, the policies that Trump are proposing – specifically, eliminating the tax deduction for state and local property taxes – would hurt blue-states that tend to have higher state and local taxes because they tend to have higher property taxes but provide more services and get less in federal payments than they send to the government, while red-states that have low state and local taxes (and crappy schools and health care) get more from the federal government (paid for by blue states) than they send.

And what about Puerto Rico. which already was in economic disaster – having defaulted on $70 billion in debt – and basically written off by the US government. It’s infrastructure is now totally destroyed. How will it be rebuilt? Here’s what I imagine:  Trump is so transactional, I can see a foreign country (China?) with big bucks and an interest in having a foothold in the Western Hemisphere buying Puerto Rico from the US. After all, what is $100 billion or $200 billion to put the island right?

Of course Trump’s tax “reform” plan – sketched out as if on the back of an envelope without any analysis – is really all about tax cuts to the wealthiest and to corporations. As Hillary Clinton said during a debate (which she won): “trickle down economics on steroids” from the guy who took a $900 million deduction for a failed real estate deal, which taxpayers – normal working stiffs – wind up paying for.

Those who have actually analyzed the plan have said that the wealthiest people – who have done astronomically well for decades, while middle class Americans have scarcely had a salary increase in 40 years, so that the gap between rich and poor has reached Grand Canyon proportions – would get a tax windfall of $170,000 a year, while middle class families would get something like $700. Where do the 1 percenters put that extra money which they scarcely need? Well, they invest in buying politicians and influencing policy, of course.

Tax “reform” figures into the Trump obsession with repealing Obamacare and leaving 32 million people without health insurance. It figures into the administration’s dismissal of the Gateway Tunnel project so important to the New York region’s infrastructure and economy.

But now, Trump’s Republican states are being whacked with climate catastrophes, and the money has to come from somewhere.

And let’s also be reminded that the growth in the economy – first, saving the nation from plunging into another Great Depression, and now rebounding to the highest median income, lowest unemployment rate ever and highest rate of health insurance coverage while reducing the poverty rate – happened because of Obama Administration policies and would have been even more effective in terms of raising wages and living standards if the Trump Administration did not steamroll back policies, like overtime pay, parental leave, and federal minimum wage and obstruct infrastructure development and the transition to clean, renewable energy.

People remark that the devastation in their neighborhoods from these massive climate disasters is like a bomb went off. Well, in wartime, taxes are raised – that’s how the rate on the wealthiest hit 90%, to pay off the World War II debt. This is wartime. This nation has to rebuild, and sustainably, responsibly. We need to invest in 21st and 22nd century technologies, to keep the United States a global leader. Otherwise, we will cede our leverage to China which has basically embraced the American model of spreading its political ideology (nominally, “Democracy”) through capitalism (nominally “free market” as opposed to centralized control) and is literally buying up influence over Africa and Asia.

Of course, Trump’s tax plan is Paul Ryan’s tax plan (Trump never actually had a plan), and the Republicans are content to let Trump destroy the nation and end the social safety net including Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid, and possibly embroil us in World War III, until they can get jam through the tax plan they have coveted since Reagan.

________

© 2017 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Trump’s Infrastructure Agenda Would Send US Back to 19th Century, End Global Leadership

The Pittsburgh skyline is visible today; a century ago, when steel and coal reigned supreme, the city would have been shrouded in cloud of pollution. Trump, pulling the US out of the Paris Climate Accord, said he represented the people of Pittsburgh, not Paris, but 75% of Pittsburghers voted for Hillary Clinton © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

My return visit to Pittsburgh for my second Rails-to-Trails Conservancy Sojourn bike tour on the Great Allegheny Passage reaffirmed for me the stupidity of Donald Trump’s justification for abandoning the Paris Climate Agreement, that he was elected by the people of Pittsburgh, not the people of Paris, and that what Pittsburghers want more than anything is to roll back time a century to the days when coal was king and steel mills were belching putrid smoke and men died prematurely in horrid working conditions, their lives under the thumb of Robber Barons who controlled industry and politics. Indeed, the people of Pittsburgh voted 75% for Hillary Clinton’s agenda and vision of America’s future.

But Trump’s entire agenda, beginning with a budget that would similarly reverse course on the very infrastructure and technology developments that would insure America’s leadership in the 21st century, rather than put us back a century.

We get a glimpse of what that is like on the outskirts of the city, in Clairton, where a huge mound of coal dwarfs a tractor truck, and across the bridge over the rail lines, is a chemical plant emitting a foul smell that penetrates the modest residential neighborhood across the street.

The city of Pittsburgh, itself, has risen anew, with glistening office towers and a new economy based on finance, health care, academics, robotics and technology. Its waterfront, once dominated by dirty industrial plants, is now a gorgeous bike path, which you can see so spectacularly from Mount Washington, the place from which George Washington surveyed to find a location to put a fort to protect British colonial interests, but from which in those bad ol’ days, the city would have been shrouded in haze.

Outside the city, where we start our bike tour near the beginning of the 150-mile long multi-purpose railtrail, in the state which built its economy on oil, coal and gas, there are windmills on the hilltops and solar farms in fields. Where we camp one night, in Confluence below the Youghiogheny River Reservoir dam built in 1944 to control flooding, the outflow has been tapped for hydroelectric power.

The biketrail – representing 150 of some 23,000 miles of similarly repurposed railtrails across the country – is a new lifeline for small towns like Meyersdale, which once supported six hotels, an elementary school and a high school, now all shuttered, and Dunbar, once a center for glassmaking and coal production. In Confluence, where the population today is 700, we add 200 to that roll during our stay.

The Trump agenda – and his budget to back it up – would cancel out the line for funding such repurposing projects that has existed since 1991, while eliminating incentives that helped jumpstart America’s fledgling clean, renewable energy industry where jobs are growing at a rate 12 times faster than the rest of the economy. The 374,000 now employed in solar eclipse the 74,000 people working as coal miners, indeed, exceed all the workers in oil, gas and coal combined; while wind energy employed 100,000. Worldwide – and places like Europe which are legions ahead of the US in wind and solar –  some 10 million people are employed in clean renewable energy jobs.

At the same time, the Trump Administration – EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke – are sloping the playing field back in favor of climate-destroying fossil fuel industry, rolling back regulations that would allow coal mining companies to pollute water, removing protections on drilling and mining on federal lands, opening up exports of natural gas and oil, creating financial incentives for new nuclear plants, and ending tax credits for renewable energy, among a long, long list. Trump wants to really stick it to climate activists.

Trump’s promise to invest $1 trillion in America’s aging, decaying and obsolete infrastructure is also a sham – as evidenced by his Transportation director exiting the New York-New Jersey Hudson Gateway Tunnel project, and a budget that would rescind funding to rebuild the century-old tunnel.

One contrasts this myopia from the guy who boasted of being a “builder” with the bicentennial of the building of the Erie Canal, in 1817, a bold vision and engineering marvel, which quite literally made New York City the financial capital of the world by connecting the port of New York to the Midwest’s resources and markets with Europe. Even then, globalization, not isolation, is what made the United States a world power.

It’s not just the belching, choking pollution that Trump would like to go back to. In climate policy, energy policy, health care, tax reform, and now infrastructure, Trump envisions exacerbating the divide between rich and poor – and therefore political power as campaign finance and special interests increasingly determine who gets the “ear” in policy. His budget affirms his bias against transitioning away from a climate-destroying carbon energy economy in favor of clean, renewable, decentralized (and cheaper, less monopolistic) energy. His regulatory policy reverses the incentives as well as the progress. The Republican health care policy is as much a mechanism to cement power in the hands of the “haves” versus the have-nots – who are unlikely to challenge abusive employers if they are afraid of losing their health insurance; unable to join protest marches and rallies if they are in pain or suffering; and unable to have their concerns acted on by lawmakers if they don’t have the funds to contribute to campaigns.

Infrastructure, energy policy, the environment, technological innovation and prospects for economic growth, prosperity, social mobility and yes, political power are all connected. Climate justice, social justice, economic justice, political justice are all intertwined.

Trump would have us go back a century or two and cost the United States its global leadership.

______________

© 2017 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin