House Dem dismisses paying for infrastructure by rolling back Trump tax law
Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) signaled on Tuesday that he thinks there are better ways to pay for an infrastructure package than a rollback of the GOP tax law.
Blumenauer told reporters that it would be "complex" to link infrastructure with major changes to the tax code.
"I think of all the ways that we could have to fund the rebuilding and renewing of America, I think that is fraught with peril," said Blumenauer, a senior member of the House Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over taxes.
Blumenauer spoke to reporters one day before the Ways and Means Committee holds a hearing about infrastructure. According to the congressman, there are tentative plans to devote time on the House floor to infrastructure in late spring.
President Trump and congressional Democrats have both expressed interest in working on an infrastructure package this year, but the challenge is figuring out how to pay for such a package.
Senate Democrats last year proposed paying for $1 trillion in infrastructure spending by rolling back parts of Trump's 2017 tax-cut law, such as by raising the corporate rate from 21 percent to 25 percent.
But any proposal to finance infrastructure through an increase in the corporate tax rate would be sure to get pushback from Republican lawmakers and business groups, who argue that the lower rate created in the 2017 law has been beneficial for the economy.
Blumenauer said he thinks there's a "desperate need" to re-examine the tax law, and said he is open to taking an all-of-the-above approach on infrastructure financing.
But he noted that the Obama administration and some lawmakers had said before the Trump tax law was enacted that they wanted to fund infrastructure through structural changes to the tax code, and they were not able to do so. He also said that linking infrastructure with a revamp of the tax code is unnecessary.
"There are paths forward that do not involve a food fight," he said.
Blumenauer said that revenue sources for an infrastructure bill would likely involve some type of user charges, such as raising fuel taxes. He noted that many states have raised their gas taxes in recent years, including red states, and that business and labor leaders support increasing the gas tax.
Blumenauer also on Tuesday introduced legislation with Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) to expand the use of tax-exempt bonds for infrastructure. Sen. Ron Wyden (Ore.), the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, has previously offered similar legislation in the upper chamber.