When I visited Pacific Junction, Iowa, with the Parr family earlier this month to survey flood damage, I was deeply moved to see citizens come together to cook meals, give donations, and help one another recover. Seeing the recent flooding in Burlington and Davenport, I know that river to river, Iowans truly understand flood damage and what it can do. But as a nation, we can do more. It’s time for us to come together to help all Americans protect against severe weather by supporting better levees, roads and more.
Throughout my career both as an entrepreneur and a public servant in Congress, I always believed in bringing people together to solve big problems. Infrastructure does just that. It creates good jobs, protects the bridges and water systems we all depend on and helps prevent catastrophic damage from flooding.
I’ve visited all 99 counties in Iowa and can see how the American Society of Civil Engineers gave Iowa a “C” grade on its Infrastructure Report Card. Our national infrastructure is rated a “D+.” Last week, I announced a bold new $2 trillion dollar fully-funded infrastructure plan.
We must expand our largest infrastructure program: the Highway Trust Fund (HTF). Sadly, the HTF has been underfunded for decades. Our roadways are crumbling from disrepair, and it would take 80 years to catch up on repairs to the estimated 47,000 deficient bridges across our nation. My plan expands the HTF by 50 percent so we can get our nation moving again on safe, good roads. My plan goes even further by creating a National Infrastructure Bank, which would support important infrastructure projects of all shapes and sizes.
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Iowans know, however, that infrastructure means more than highways. We need to become more structurally resilient against the barrage of severe weather events that climate change is wreaking on our planet. We also need to protect our fresh drinking water pipelines and systems, so all Americans have safe, clean water. My plan would invest in upgrades and repairs that would help protect communities from unthinkable disaster. Taking a step further, my plan aims to turn one of our earth’s greatest threats — carbon dioxide — into a new economic strength with the construction of a Carbon Throughway that will help capture and transport carbon for innovative uses.
Public schools are pillars of our communities, but our students and teachers can’t be at their best if classrooms are overcrowded or in disrepair. We need a new fund to help state and local governments get to work fixing and upgrading our nation’s schools, and my plan would establish one. And because students and small businesses alike can achieve more with internet access, my plan creates a rural broadband fund and initiatives to invest in rural revitalization.
As an entrepreneur, I agree we must manage our debt and deficit. All of my proposals are fully-funded for fiscal responsibility. We can fund this ambitious infrastructure plan with modest increases in the corporate tax rate (from 21 percent to 27 percent, far less than the 35 percent rate of two years ago) and updating the gas tax for inflation. The gas tax hasn’t been updated to inflation since the 1990s. Our strong infrastructure would pay us all back with safer roads and bridges, better flood protection, clean water, and broadband internet.
I continue to be inspired by residents in Pacific Junction, Davenport, Burlington, Hamburg and many other areas impacted by flooding this spring. When we come together, we can accomplish incredible things. I believe investing in our nation now will pay us all back a lot more in the long run. It’s time for us to come together for infrastructure, and rebuild our American dream.