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Today: Senate Debates Infra Bank, Transpo Funding, Regulations, and More

9:56 AM PDT on November 3, 2011

This morning, the Senate is debating two transportation-related bills: the Rebuild America Jobs Act (S.1769) and the Long-Term Surface Transportation Extension Act (S.1786).

The Rebuild America Jobs Act is a piece of President Obama’s jobs bill that was broken off in hopes that it could pass on its own. It would invest $50 billion on infrastructure projects and another $10 billion in seed money for an infrastructure bank, to be paid for with a 0.7 percent surtax on incomes over $1 million.

Taxing the rich and increasing government spending — now there’s a recipe for some partisan rancor.

So far Democratic Leader Harry Reid and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell have traded barbs that each is just engaged in election-year sloganeering. Reid said 76 percent of the American people approve of the plan to tax the “top two-tenths of one percent.” But McConnell said those 76 percent might change their minds if they knew that “four out of five of those high-income individuals are actually business owners.” They haven’t talked much about the merits of infrastructure investment.

Note that not all of the big players who lined up behind increased investment and an infrastructure bank favor this bill. Bruce Josten of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, for instance, said yesterday in a letter to senators [PDF] that the Rebuild America Jobs Act “fails to provide the multi-year funding certainty and fails to establish the policy and program reforms sorely needed to create jobs and support economic growth” and “only continues to delay and frustrate the serious and much needed debate on the sustained long-term investment required to address America’s infrastructure crisis.”

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