NEW YORK – House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi released a two-page memo Friday calling for a $2 trillion “jobs and economic development” package that would include measures like infrastructure spending and universal pre-K education.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has demanded a large stimulus package to revive the economy. (CQ Roll Call)
The proposal, first reported by The Washington Post, would be substantially different from the $1.5 trillion package the president is aiming to sign into law. It’s unclear if it would be subject to future reconciliation efforts aimed at resolving the party’s differences with the Senate. Democrats have opposed the Senate’s tax reform bill, warning that large tax cuts would worsen the deficit.
Pelosi and her allies have long expressed the view that a $2 trillion package of direct spending on infrastructure, retirement security and the environment, among other areas, would have to be enacted to lift the economy and spur more job creation. On Wednesday, Pelosi said that it was “unrealistic” to believe a smaller package could accomplish the same objective.
“Infrastructure is the great issue and it must be funded, and its included in any budget that has investment within it,” Pelosi said. “Jobs is our number one goal, workforce quality is our number one goal, and we must pay for those things. We can’t spend money that doesn’t exist.”
On Friday, her memo laid out an ambitious plan that included $500 billion in “education, child care, and workplace opportunities;” $300 billion in debt relief; $160 billion in commitments to community banks; $110 billion in additional funding for veterans’ and military health care; $50 billion for job training; $40 billion in tax relief; and $25 billion in community development infrastructure projects.
The Democratic plan also calls for $75 billion to improve “deployment readiness” and $60 billion to combat the opioid epidemic. It includes $100 billion to restore funding for community health centers that the Affordable Care Act cut in recent years, and $80 billion to combat the opioid epidemic.
It includes $50 billion to upgrade the communications infrastructure across the country, address climate change and to fix the country’s “precarious rental housing.” Democrats are focusing this portion of the plan to call attention to the need for affordable housing that is close to work and transportation hubs, in part because of the vacancy rate for rental housing near these points is so low, with incomes low enough to support it. The program also includes measures that would require responsible landlords to create a reserve fund to invest in tenants’ housing and build housing that communities and families can afford to live in.
“These proposals represent a clear agenda to produce real, long-term economic growth that bolsters America’s middle class while ensuring that low-income and senior households are assisted,” the memo said.
The plan also includes $20 billion in financing for institutions of higher education and $5 billion for workforce training and construction that address the future workforce needs. The plan also includes $10 billion for child care, investing in improved child care through expanded tax credits and aid for working parents; $10 billion for family planning, including free access to abortion; and $10 billion for solar energy and renewables.
Pelosi has been a long-time champion of progressive priorities, which have been held up in recent years by the opposition of GOP lawmakers. Last month, Democrats engineered a victory when they pushed through a floor vote for the first time in more than 60 years a bill requiring that all children in day care facilities receive some quality care. The effort to ensure that children in day care receive the same access to health care as those in their homes was pushed forward by senators like Sherrod Brown, a Democrat from Ohio.
Democrats also highlighted the need for a “new energy economy” as a major plank in their congressional agenda last week when they unveiled a proposal to fund $15 billion worth of public transit projects.