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Economy

For Democratic Candidates, Infrastructure Isn't Just Highways

When she takes the debate stage tonight, Kirsten Gillibrand is likely to tout a new infrastructure bill. Other presidential hopefuls are talking up their own rebuilding priorities.
A boy in Flint, Michigan gets water from a cooler. Years after lead was found in Flint's pipes, the city still does not have clean water.
A boy in Flint, Michigan gets water from a cooler. Years after lead was found in Flint's pipes, the city still does not have clean water.Paul Sancya/AP

Ten Democratic presidential hopefuls parsed big ideas, from the progressive to “pragmatic,” during Tuesday night’s debate. Some involved tearing down a broken system: removing barriers to healthcare access, carving holes in border walls, and dismantling racial injustice. But the candidates were also pressed to discuss, albeit briefly, how they’d think about rebuilding—starting with the country’s pavement and pipes.

“Infrastructure … [is] a bread and butter issue for people that are caught in traffic jams,” said Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar. She was the first of the candidates to introduce an infrastructure plan this March, proposing spending $1 trillion on projects like rural broadband, green infrastructure, and new schools. To pay for it, she proposes closing capital gains tax loopholes and helping states and cities “leverage private funds.” Former Representative John Delaney of Maryland became the second in May, promising to commit $2 trillion to the cause, including $200 million to the cash-strapped Highway Trust Fund.