Recap: Solutions 2020 briefing with Senator Amy Klobuchar

Business Forward conducted our briefing with Senator Amy Klobuchar on April 3rd, 2019. This is our fifth briefing in the Solutions 2020 series.

Senator Klobuchar outlined details from her new proposal to invest in America’s infrastructure. Business leaders offered their insights and questions for Senator Klobuchar on her infrastructure plan and several other issues, including climate action and affordable health care.

Infrastructure

Senator Klobuchar detailed her $1 trillion infrastructure package, which includes investments in road, bridges, airports, seaports, rail, mass transit, school construction, rural broadband, clean water, and energy efficient retrofits.  Paying for infrastructure investment is critical to any serious proposal, and Klobuchar outlined how she would fund and implement her plan.

“It’s paid for by two bipartisan bills. One is infrastructure bonds and the other is an Infrastructure Financing Authority, which has been kicking around for a while and that’s something that Senator Warner and Blunt put forth. And it takes, just to give you an example, about 25 billion dollars in federal investment. And this is a conservative estimate that we could get in another $250 billion in state investment and private investment. So that’s part of the cornerstone of this. $650 billion of it is direct federal funding. And I would pay for it by taking the 25% tax rate that we should’ve been at in the tax bill that passed…and taking it up there from 21%. Every point is 100 billion dollars. The other way to pay for this is by taking the foreign tax rate down and changing it (down as in changing the bill from what they did in the Republican tax bill, which was to put it as an average of all foreign countries) and instead have it go back to their rate for each country. That is 150 billion dollars in savings.”

Bipartisan Track Record

On funding her ambitious infrastructure goals, Senator Klobuchar noted the importance of working with Republican colleagues highlighting her proven record of working with conservative Senate members to deliver on her promises.

“I’m someone that has proven time and time again I can work across the aisle. Vanderbilt just ranked me number one of Democratic senators for most effective in terms of fifteen metrics and getting things done. And I know I can do this because I know where the common points are in the Senate.”

Climate Action

Business leaders submitted several insights and questions on climate action.  Jim Lane, CEO of Nuu Media, in Key Biscayne, Florida, asked, “What’s the best alternative to the Green New Deal?” Senator Klobuchar discussed her interpretation of the Green New Deal, as well as her take as an elected official from the nation’s interior:

“The Green New Deal is actually just a set of goals. It’s aspirational. I think it’s really important to harness the energy of young people and people that want to move on climate change, because, so far, all we’ve done is admired the problem. I always use the example, as a Midwestern voice on this, that doesn’t always talk about rising sea levels because, you know, we all know that on the coast. But I also talked about wildfires and tornadoes and flooding. We’ve got to start meeting people where they are in terms of the effects of climate change, but we also have to meet them where they are to say this isn’t economic versus environment.”

Health Care

On affordable health care, Joan Boyce from Havertown, Pennsylvania asked Senator Klobuchar, “What plans do you have to reinstate what the GOP has dismantled and improve upon what the Democrats did when the ACA was enacted?”

Klobuchar emphasized the need to lower consumer costs. When proposing her ideas to combat the pressing issue, the Senator detailed existing bills she believes would work together to create a more robust health care payment system, in which the American people most benefit.

“Some things that I would do to improve it, first of all, very straightforward are reinsurance and cost sharing. Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray have a bill that would do that. We know it’s helped bring rates down in places like Alaska (red state) and Minnesota. So, I would do that nationally. The second thing would be (in that first year) to get a public option in place, and you can do it through Medicare or Medicaid. Brian Schott has a bill that I’m an original sponsor of that would use Medicaid (which is kind of a unique idea) instead of Medicare to allow people to get those rates. And I think you would see competitive rates and that would move people over into that, and that’s OK. And then, the third thing I would do is push the pharmaceutical companies (and I have been a leader on that ever since I got to the Senate). This means everything from negotiations under Medicare, which would set a different pace for the whole health care system in terms of pharma prices, to my bills with Senator Grassley, one of which would allow less expensive drugs to come in from Canada.”