Mr. REID. This week, Democrats introduced legislation that will put Americans back to work rebuilding this Nation's crumbling infrastructure. It will allow us to hire thousands of people to upgrade 150,000 miles of roadways, thousands of miles of train tracks, and modernize our Nation's runways and air traffic control systems. The Rebuild America Jobs Act will invest $50 billion to ensure that our world-class economy has world-class infrastructure and get this economy working again.
This is not a new issue. It is something that is long overdue. A number of years ago, I conducted a hearing in the [Page: S6932] Public Works Committee, where we brought in mayors from around the country, from Atlanta, Washington, DC, and other places around the country. They lamented the sorry state of the infrastructure. Sadly, in those approximately 10 years, nothing has been done--nothing.
This commonsense plan we have proposed has enjoyed broad bipartisan support in the past. Many of my Republican colleagues in the Senate have spoken glowingly about what infrastructure investments could do to put people back to work and improve the economy in their States. Yet this week Republicans have raised a hue and cry against our plan because it has millionaires and billionaires--those whose income is more than $1 million--to contribute their fair share to right our listing economy.
We don't cast a net over millionaires and billionaires, only those who make more than $1 million a year. The plan would require the richest of the rich in America to contribute a tiny fraction of income to that effort. They would pay a seven-tenths of 1 percent surtax on income in excess of $1 million a year. If someone made $1.1 million a year income, they would have to pay an additional $700 to put America back to work.
Yet my Republican colleagues adamantly oppose this fair and balanced approach because it would require Americans who have done better each year for decades to contribute a tiny fraction more than they do now. These people are the top two-tenths of 1 percent of American taxpayers--two-tenths of 1 percent, the richest of the rich. Yet Republicans have put the interests of these millionaires and billionaires ahead of those who are desperate for work, and it has cost this Nation literally millions of jobs.
It is important that we be clear about who these lucky few millionaires and billionaires are who enjoy the protections of the Senate GOP. Who are they? Here is who they are: the same millionaires and billionaires whose annual aftertax income has increased by 275 percent over the last 3 decades--I repeat, 275 percent. That is not a figure made up out of the blue by some rightwing or leftwing organization. It came from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. These are the same millionaires and billionaires whose annual aftertax income has increased by 275 percent over the last 3 decades.
Between 1979 and 2007, the bottom 20 percent of wage earners saw their wages creep up slowly--18 percent. Meantime, the top 1 percent saw theirs double again and again and again, to almost a 300-percent increase. The bottom 20 percent of wage earners saw theirs go up 18 percent. The people I have talked about--the millionaires and billionaires--have gone up almost 300 percent. In fact, their share of the Nation's income is higher than at any time since 1928--just before the stock market crash, plunging this Nation into the Great Depression. Their share of the national income has doubled since 1979. Listen to this. And now they take home more than half of all the money earned each year in this great country, even after taxes. They take home more than half the money earned each year in this country. That means this 1 percent now makes more than the other 99 percent combined. And they are not going to allow us to proceed to create hundreds of thousands of jobs for a tax increase of seven-tenths of 1 percent on the richest of the rich? No one deprives them of their prosperity. They have worked hard, and it hasn't all been inherited money. We understand that. But their tremendous fortunes mean they can afford to contribute a tiny fraction more to shore up the economic future of our Nation.
John D. Rockefeller, Jr., the grandfather of Jay Rockefeller from West Virginia, who serves in this body today, said: Every right implies a responsibility; every opportunity, an obligation; every possession, a duty.
Seventy-two percent of Americans, including 54 percent of Republicans, support the Democrats' plan to pull this Nation out of the worse recession we have seen since the Great Depression by investing in new roadways, runways, and railways. And 76 percent of Americans, including 56 percent of Republicans, agree the Nation's most privileged citizens should contribute a little more to help pay for it. Democrats, Republicans, Independents, and even the tea party favor this. They all believe in initiatives that we have proposed to jumpstart our economy, but they know the money will have to come from somewhere. They know tough choices must be made. The world out there supports what we are trying to do. The world inside this body, with the 47 Republicans who are stopping us with obstructionist tactics, is not allowing what America knows they want and need.
Again, they believe in initiatives we have proposed to jumpstart our economy. They know the money will have to come from somewhere, and they know tough choices must be made.
Asking someone making, for example, $1.1 million to contribute a few dollars more every year should not be one of our tough choices; it should be a no-brainer. Yet while Democrats fight for the middle class, it seems that Republicans will fight for the 1 percent of Americans who have every resource in America to fight for themselves. END