The low-hanging fruit on bipartisanship

In the wake of the November elections there is a renewed interest in bipartisanship, civility and cooperation in Washington. This push for Democrats and Republicans to work together for the common good of the country comes directly from the American people, who have spoken clearly that they are tired of dysfunction and want Washington to tackle the major issues facing the country. In an era of divided government, finding common ground is the surest way to move the country forward. With millions of Americans struggling to remain in the middle class, we should prioritize bipartisan initiatives that create jobs and encourage economic growth. 

To get this done, I encourage my colleagues in the House and Senate who are seeking bipartisan solutions to look no further than The Partnership to Build America Act (PBAA).This legislation is the low-hanging fruit of bipartisan progress and has the support of liberals, moderates and conservatives because it represents a truly new approach that takes the best ideas from both parties. 

{mosads}Even amid the acrimony of the last Congress, I’ve found that there is a deep well of bipartisan support for increasing our investment in infrastructure, provided that it is done in a fiscally-responsible way. By combining new infrastructure projects with international tax reform, we can create new jobs in the short-term, make our country more competitive in two of the most critical areas of need long-term, and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans. 

We can’t compete in a global economy with roads, bridges, airports and ports that were built in the Eisenhower era. The American Society of Civil Engineers has given our nation’s infrastructure a D+ grade and estimates that we now have a $3.6 trillion dollar infrastructure deficit.  A substandard transportation, energy and water management grid is a drain on our national productivity, a hidden tax on countless American companies that would like to expand and a real public safety threat to millions each day. 

Moreover, as evidenced by continued problems with maintaining the Highway Trust Fund and the myriad fiscal difficulties faced by state and local governments around the country, it is clear that the old ways of funding and financing infrastructure just aren’t up to the task. Single-party solutions, likewise, however much they may please party idealists, are also unlikely to go anywhere.  

The Partnership to Build America Act, which I introduced in the House last year and Sens. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) filed in the Senate, currently has 45 Democratic cosponsors and 46 Republican cosponsors across both chambers. That fact alone makes it the largest piece of bipartisan economic legislation in the Congress.  

The PBAA creates a large-scale infrastructure fund that is funded without additional spending or taxes. Instead, it’s funded by selling infrastructure bonds to private corporations. In exchange for purchasing these low-yield bonds the companies are allowed to repatriate a portion of their overseas earnings, one-time, tax-free. It’s a double bottom line jobs bill for the American economy – the legislation will create jobs by both building infrastructure and by bringing back to our homeland trapped overseas profits.

The infrastructure piece alone is estimated to create over a million jobs.  The hard work done by myself and my 90 cosponsors has resulted in letters of support from think tanks and business and labor groups from both sides of the aisle.  

The PBAA has garnered such broad support because it brings together good ideas from both sides of the aisle. Democrats have correctly argued for increasing our investment in infrastructure to make us more competitive and create jobs and Republicans have correctly argued to fix our broken international corporate tax system to allow profits to flow back to the United States and discourage inversions. The fusion of these ideas is good public policy and it is good for Americans. In fact, we are working on an expansion of the bill to fund the Highway Trust Fund for years to come and provide broader fixes to our international tax code. And as we know, infrastructure investment pencils out. According to numerous economic studies, including a May 2014 study by Standard & Poor’s, $1.3 billion in new infrastructure projects would generate $2 billion in real economic growth. That’s growth we need and jobs we need.  

By any measure, the Partnership to Build America Act proves that a bipartisan jobs bill can be crafted on infrastructure and international tax reform. Let’s get to work. 

Delaney has represented Maryland’s 6th Congressional District since 2013. He sits on the Financial Services Committee and is the only former CEO of a publicly-traded company in Congress.

Tags Michael Bennet Roy Blunt

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