The Newsroom


GRIMES: REBUILD THE BRIDGE, CUT THE DEFICIT


FRANKFORT – The following is Alison Lundergan Grimes’ plan as it pertains to rebuilding the Brent Spence Bridge:

There are two ways to approach the urgent need to launch and complete the Brent Spence Bridge project.

One is what Mitch McConnell is offering today – a political ploy that will go nowhere, do nothing and ultimately sink like a stone.  His hope is for a short-term political lift.  Building bridges, as he has reminded us so often, has never been on his mind.

The other is to propose a plan that will bring this long-delayed project to fruition.  I outlined my commitment to make a new bridge a reality – and to do so without tolls – when I spoke to the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce back in January.  At that time, of course, Mitch McConnell was still insisting that the bridge project was a state responsibility.

As your next Senator, I will be a relentless advocate for the Brent Spence Bridge project and will work across party lines in support of a plan that can make it happen.

Here is my proposal:

We can cover the looming short term shortfall in the Federal Highway Trust Fund and as a part of that effort ensure that the Brent Spence Bridge project is fully funded by closing tax loopholes that benefit millionaires and billionaires and ending tax breaks that encourage companies to ship jobs overseas.

Taking these five steps identified by the Senate Budget Committee would produce almost $75 billion in revenue over 10 years – more than enough to fund the Brent Spence Bridge project fully, with any leftover revenue dedicated to bringing down the federal deficit.

1. Limit Corporate Deductions for Excessive Executive Stock Options ($50 billion over 10 years): “Right now, big corporations claim enormous deductions by compensating their executives in stock options instead of regular paychecks, thereby skirting existing rules that limit deductible cash compensation to certain employees to $1 million per year. This loophole encourages the same type of reckless, short-term profit focus that contributed to the financial crisis.”

2. Close Loopholes For Companies Shipping Jobs Overseas ($200 million over 10 years): The “Bring Jobs Home Act” (S. 337, introduced by Sen. Debbie Stabenow) would close a tax loophole that allows companies to deduct the costs of moving equipment overseas.

3. Close the Corporate Jet Loophole ($4 billion over 10 years): “Corporate jet owners can deduct their investments over five years, while commercial aircraft must be depreciated over a longer period.”

4. Treat Companies Managed and Controlled in the U.S. as U.S. Companies ($7 billion over 10 years): “Companies that are managed and controlled right here in the U.S. can avoid taxes by incorporating and setting up a P.O. Box in a tax haven overseas.  In fact, 18,000 companies claim their headquarters are located inside a single five-story building in the Cayman Islands.”

5. End the “John Edwards/Newt Gingrich” Loophole ($12 billion over 10 years): The tax code allows some wealthy business owners to “mischaracterize income as business profits instead of salary to avoid Medicare and Social Security payroll taxes.”

[Source: Senate Budget Committee, 11/1/13]

Mitch McConnell opposes these steps.  He stands with millionaires and billionaires, and the outsourcers, and their cozy tax breaks.  I stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of Northern Kentucky, and I share their demand for action on the bridge project.

The need for constructing a new Brent Spence Bridge and rebuilding access highway is obvious.

Studies cited by project proponents note that intolerable congestion leads to 3.6 million hours of delay each year for passenger cars alone and wastes 1.6 million gallons of fuel.  Accidents are three to five times more likely on this stretch of road than on any other piece of interstate highway in Kentucky or Ohio.  Of course, no price tag can be put on a human life.

And while Mitch McConnell has often declared this project to be a state responsibility, I would remind him that it is an INTERSTATE highway.  And not just any interstate.  The region is connected by the Brent Spence Bridge to eight other states, from Michigan to Florida.  Three percent of the nation’s GDP passes through this vital NATIONAL transportation link.

Now, after years of foot-dragging and looking the other way, Mitch McConnell suddenly wants us to believe he can forge a solution.  That’s nonsense.  As the proud “guardian of gridlock,” Sen. McConnell is the embodiment of budgetary impasse and dead-end “sequestration.”  He has been the problem.

I pledge to you that as your next U.S. Senator, I will reach out to responsible members of both parties to return to a sensible, bipartisan budgeting process that observes the need to restrain spending but also finds and allocates money for Kentucky’s and the nation’s most urgent needs.

The time has come for change.  The time has come for action.

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