By Liz Ryan Murray, Ben Ishibashi
May 25, 2017 – There’s broad agreement across our country, and across party lines, that we need more good jobs and that we need to rebuild our nation’s crumbling infrastructure.
But that’s where the agreement ends. The answers to how we do that, what we build, where we build and who gets the jobs couldn’t be more different.
One plan will move us backwards – deepening the climate crisis, income and wealth inequality, make our neighborhoods more toxic and more vulnerable.
The other takes on the challenges of a warming planet and toxic neighborhoods head on by investing in repairing and replacing deteriorating infrastructure. This creates good, living wage jobs communities where they’re needed most and empowers our communities to build the new green, climate-change ready and just economy that finally works for all of us, not just the wealthy few.
At its core, the fight over how we deal with infrastructure is about environmental justice. It is about whether or not black and brown people, Native people and working class people of all races have the same right to clean air, clean water, well-maintained neighborhoods and a livable climate as the one percent.
This week, Trump put out an anti-people, anti-planet budget plan that shows us what his answer to that question is. Trump and his friends on Wall Street and the energy companies are crafting an infrastructure plan that will:
Give taxpayer dollars to corporations to build privately owned toll-roads in wealthy suburbs and cities.
Sell off our airports and let corporations charge us more fees to use them.
Sell off our water and energy utilities and loosen regulations on safety, making a bad situation worse.
Sell our public parks to oil companies to drill and then let them build more pipelines through sacred lands.
Gut the rules on environmental protections and those that require a living wage for workers.
The Trump infrastructure bill is an attack on our lives, our communities, our future and our planet. We can either let him do this to us or we can stand up and fight back for our lives, our people and our environment. We know what our choice will be.
We at People’s Action have a much different plan. Working with directly impacted communities across the country from Rust Belt cities, to small farms, to the Big Apple, to Indian Country, we’ve created a People and Planet First vision of what it means to really fix our infrastructure.
Our plan will:
Repair and replace water pipes that are poisoning our children, fix sewers that are overflowing into our basements and ensure that all people can enjoy clean water.
Build the community-owned clean energy and public transportation infrastructure we need to transition away from polluted neighborhoods and a dirty energy system that is killing the planet as it kills our communities.
Build millions of energy efficient, sustainable affordable housing units so that all people have a safe, healthy and secure place to call home.
Provide the training, living wages and security for quality jobs in our neighborhoods and towns that employ our folks – those most affected and most often passed over – to build and maintain our new, green infrastructure.
Make the one percent who have exploited us and hoarded their ill-gotten wealth in offshore bank accounts pay what they owe us.
This week, the Congressional Progressive Caucus is laying out their principles for a federal infrastructure plan that would start to put us on the right path. It’s a marker in the fight for federal, state and local plans to rebuild our country.
We need to fight to be sure we’re building for the 21st century – not the 19th. We need to fight for infrastructure that works for us – all of us – not the robber barons who helped get us into the mess. We hope you’ll join us.