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Infrastructure plan would put our people back to work


If you’ve driven on the washboards that pass for roads here or held your breath while crossing a bridge that seems like it’s held together with spit and baling wire you know that infrastructure has been ignored for too long.

The lion’s share of tax money has gone into tax breaks, defense spending and pork, while roads and bridges crumbled and waterlines leaked like sieves. The last major infrastructure bill by Congress was in 1965 when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the bill that formally created the Appalachian Regional Commission and brought about what good highways we do have today.

That would change if Congress approves an infrastructure bill proposed by President Joe Biden.

The bill would cost $2 trillion – yes, TRILLION. It would be paid for by closing loopholes that allow U.S. companies to avoid paying taxes by claiming they’re actually foreign companies, and increase the corporate tax rate to 28 percent from 21 percent.

Just as importantly, it would create good paying jobs, and people with good paying jobs pay taxes. People without jobs and no hope of finding one pay none. If Letcher County has anything at all, it’s a surplus of people with no jobs, no money, and increasingly, no hope.

The proposal includes $16 billion to plug old oil and gas wells and reclaim old strip mines. It includes upgrade and modernize everything roads, bridges, railways, buses, trains and airports. There’s $45 billion to remove all lead pipes, and another $56 billion in grants and loans to states, tribes, territories, and underserved communities to upgrade and modernize drinking water, sanitary sewers, and stormwater systems, prevent new contaminants, and support clean water infrastructure in rural areas.

All of this takes earth moving. How many coal miners here can run backhoes, bulldozers and rock trucks, but have no one to employ them?

If approved by Congress, the plan would create jobs for engineers, drafters, heavy equipment operators, flaggers, manual laborers, office personnel, concrete plant workers, and much more. Those opposed to taxing corporations have already come out against the plan, but make no mistake: Corporations do not pay their fair share. According to a report issued in 2018 by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, 91 of 379 Fortune 500 companies studied paid zero or less in taxes. How did they pay less than zero? The government paid them.

Among those reportedly paying zero or less were US Steel, Goodyear Tire and Rubber, and Delta Airlines. Even Amazon, owned by the richest man in the world, was reported to have paid nothing.

There’s an old saying: “What do you expect for nothing?” In our case, we’ve learned to expect terrible roads, unsafe bridges, and tainted water for the “nothing” paid by corporate giants.

There’s another saying: “You get what you pay for.” If we want to get improved infrastructure and good jobs from the government, someone has to pay for it. Shouldn’t it be the ones who make the most and pay the least?

If you think so, call your Congressman, Harold “Hal” Rogers, or your two senators, Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul. All three voted against those $1,400 stimulus checks that began showed up last month.

Don’t you think they should make up for that?

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