Senate Democrats

Senate Democrats Roll Out Agenda For Winning The Future By Cutting Spending, Creating High-Paying Jobs And Keeping America Competitive

Agenda Focuses on Creating the High-Paying Jobs of the Future by Making Sure The Industries of Tomorrow Take Root In America

Washington, D.C. – Senate Democratic leaders unveiled a detailed plan to create jobs, promote growth and help America win the future by making smart investments in education, innovation and infrastructure while cutting spending to live within our means. Senate Democrats also announced their support for President Obama’s five-year spending freeze, which will save $400 billion over the ten years and bring domestic discretionary spending to the lowest levels since President Eisenhower.

Senators Harry Reid, Dick Durbin, Charles E. Schumer and Patty Murray detailed legislative priorities that will chart a course for meeting the goal set in President Obama’s State of the Union of out-educating, out-innovating and out-building the rest of the world. The agenda balances the need for critical investments with a serious commitment to deficit reduction.

“While Republicans say ‘so be it’ to the unemployed, Senate Democrats are working to create jobs and make America more competitive,” Sen. Reid said. “That means making smart choices about cutting waste and excess, and living within our means. As we reduce government spending and cut the deficit, we will continue to create jobs and strengthen our future by becoming the world leader in clean energy, reviving American manufacturing and preparing our workforce for the jobs of tomorrow.”

Democrats’ plan also calls for reforms to the tax code by cracking down on cheaters, eliminating inefficient loopholes and ending giveaways to billionaires and special interests.

“In order to win the future, Democrats are proposing an agenda that will help us out-innovate, out-build and out-educate our competition,” Sen. Durbin said. “This agenda will help us create jobs, reduce the deficit and maintain our position as a world leader in science and innovation.”

To out-innovate our competitors, the plan calls for expanding tax credits for research and development, investing in clean energy technologies and more efficient buildings and homes, reforming our patent process and increasing cyber security.

“Rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure is a must-do. In addition to putting Americans to work, it will allow people and goods to travel more efficiently and speed the flow of commerce,” Sen. Schumer said. “We deliberately prioritized policies that had strong potential for gaining bipartisan consensus. We will promote each of these policies at the same time that we get serious about deficit reduction. Our commitment to a five-year spending freeze will make good on the President’s call to balance critical investments that create jobs with a commitment to reducing waste in the budget.”

To out-build our competitors and create the infrastructure we need to compete in a global marketplace, the Democrats’ agenda calls for modernization of air travel, transportation, internet, manufacturing and electric grid infrastructure, measures that will create jobs.

“We can and we will out-educate our global competitors and build a highly-skilled workforce for the 21st century,” Sen. Murray said. “We will improve the Workforce Investment Act, fix No Child Left Behind, and make the College Tuition Tax Credit permanent. This Democratic education and workforce agenda is what competing is all about.”

To out-educate our competitors and make sure American workers can compete for the high-paying jobs of today and tomorrow, Democrats’ plan also calls for reforms to the nation’s education system to ensure a competitive workforce, and college tax credits that will expand opportunities for American workers.

Full text of the agenda is below.


Winning the Future

To win the future, we must out-build, out-innovate, and out-educate the rest of the world, so that the jobs and industries of our time will take root in America.  The only way we can make those necessary investments in our future is if our government starts living within its means and reduces our federal deficit.  That’s why Senate Democrats support, at a minimum, President Obama’s five-year spending freeze to save $400 billion over the next ten years and bring domestic discretionary spending to the lowest levels since President Eisenhower, and responsible tax reform to close expensive loopholes, eliminate unnecessary giveaways, and reduce burdens on U.S. taxpayers and businesses.


Invest in What Makes America Stronger and Cut What Doesn’t

Five-Year Spending Freeze:  Senate Democrats support, at a minimum, President Obama’s five-year spending freeze to cut domestic discretionary spending by $400 billion over ten years and bring domestic discretionary spending to the lowest levels since President Eisenhower.

Tax Reform: Senate Democrats will work to simplify and shrink the tax code to reduce burdens on taxpayers and businesses so our economy can grow and create more jobs.  These reforms will eliminate special interest tax giveaways and extra tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires, while cracking down on cheaters and closing loopholes that are inefficient and fail to accomplish their stated purpose.


Keep the U.S. the Global Leader in Cutting-Edge Technologies

Expand and Extend R&D Tax Credit:  Senate Democrats will push legislation to increase and make permanent the income tax credit for research and development.  The R&D credit has proven to be an important incentive for U.S. firms to encourage them to make the research and development investments necessary to promote economic growth and create jobs.  Unfortunately, the temporary nature of the credit impairs its effectiveness.

Jumpstart Clean Energy Technology: Senate Democrats will develop a Clean Energy Deployment Administration (CEDA) to accelerate the technology revolution we need to compete in the 21st century.  CEDA will move a wide range of clean energy technologies from the laboratory to the marketplace, by combining the technological expertise of the Department of Energy with a new, independently overseen cadre of business professionals who can craft the financial support that entrepreneurs need to negotiate the “valley of death” between an innovative idea and full-scale commercialization here in America.  CEDA will not only provide a pathway for the technologies that are in today’s labs to be built in America, it will make it more likely that tomorrow’s labs will continue to be based here.

Energy Efficient Buildings and Homes: Senate Democrats will seek to create high-paying jobs by promoting energy-efficient renovations in a variety of buildings, including single-family residences, multi-family residences, commercial buildings, and buildings in rural communities.  Through a mix of rebates, low-interest loans, and tax incentives for energy renovations, Democrats hope to create hundreds of thousands of new jobs in hard-hit construction and manufacturing sectors while saving consumers, businesses, and commercial building owners money on their energy bills. In the last Congress, bipartisan bills embodying these concepts included the “Home Star,” “Building Star,” and “Rural Star” programs.  Working with consumers, businesses and the Administration, Senate Democrats will introduce follow-on proposals to advance building energy efficiency.

America Invents Act of 2011:  It has been nearly 60 years since the last meaningful reforms of the nation’s patent system were enacted.  Technological advances, improvements to manufacturing, and an evolving marketplace make it critical for the United States patent system to allow inventors and innovators to compete in the global marketplace. The Patent Reform Act of 2011 was introduced in the Senate on January 25, 2011. The Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved the legislation by a 15-0 vote on February 3, 2011.

Encourage Small Business Innovation: Senate Democrats will work to improve the successful Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs, to give small business entrepreneurs with good ideas the opportunity to build a company and create high-paying jobs. Established during the Reagan administration, SBIR makes sure that the nation’s small, high-tech and innovative businesses are a significant part of the federal government’s research and development efforts.

Cyber Security to Protect America’s Entrepreneurs from IP Theft: Senate Democrats will seek to enact legislation to enhance our nation’s cyber security and promote the development of a well-educated, well-trained cyber workforce.  Improving cyber security across government agencies, critical infrastructure, and the private sector will prevent theft of the intellectual property that is a key engine of the U.S. economy, create a jobs-rich market in security technologies and evaluation, and prevent the cyber attacks that now cost American businesses millions of dollars per year.  The legislation will also expand research and development, education, and training programs designed to produce a well-qualified cyber security workforce, a highly competitive tech sector, and the continuing superiority of American innovation.


Restore U.S. Manufacturing and Strengthen Infrastructure that is Critical for U.S. Companies to Grow

FAA Modernization Act: Senate Democrats will seek to pass the FAA Reauthorization bill as their first jobs bill of the 112th Congress.  The comprehensive, bipartisan, job-creating legislation will modernize traffic control, improve air service for rural communities, create new opportunities for small businesses to move their products and remain competitive, and generate up to 280,000 new jobs by investing in America’s aviation infrastructure.  The aviation sector employs 11 million people and generates $1.2 trillion in annual economic activity.

End Off-Shoring of American Jobs and Attract New Ones: Senate Democrats will continue to fight for the passage of legislation that keeps American jobs here and attracts new ones by closing tax loopholes and eliminating counterproductive tax incentives that send good-paying jobs offshore.

Extend and Expand the Successful Build America Bonds Program:  Senate Democrats will work to extend and expand the successful Build America Bonds (BABs) program, which has accounted for more than $180 billion in bond issues in all 50 states.  BABs have lowered the cost of borrowing for municipalities, helped to restore a badly damaged municipal finance market, and supported job creation through new infrastructure projects by delivering a more efficient subsidy than tax-exempt bonds.

Build a 21st Century Surface Transportation System:  Senate Democrats will seek to enact a Surface Transportation Authorization bill to modernize and reform our current transportation system.  This bill will create and support millions of jobs, accelerate economic recovery, strengthen our global competitiveness, reduce our dangerous dependence on foreign oil and build the foundation for long-term prosperity. It will generate and support millions of high-paying jobs by investing in our nation’s infrastructure, including roads, bridges and transit systems.  Every $1 billion in federal investment in transportation that is matched by state and local funds creates and saves approximately 30,000 American jobs.

Connect America:  Senate Democrats will work to bring high-speed internet to houses, schools and businesses across America, and provide first responders and public safety officials with additional wireless resources to keep America safe.

Double America’s Clean Energy Manufacturing: The Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit (48C) is a 30 percent credit for domestic companies that build capacity for new clean energy sources, such as wind turbines and solar panels. The program, for which funding was exhausted in 2010, has supported 183 projects in 43 states that have created thousands of high quality clean energy jobs, and has gone a long way to boost domestic manufacturing of solar and wind technologies.  But we lag behind countries like China in clean energy manufacturing, and we must renew the 48C tax credit to stay in the race, as well as extend for one year the start-of-construction deadline for the cash grant in lieu of tax credit program (section 1603). Extension of and improvements to that program are necessary to ensure that all forms of renewable energy continue to be deployed rapidly and at scale.

Build a “Smart” Electric Grid: Senate Democrats will advance critical investments to help build a “smart” electric grid that will save consumers money on their utility bills, reduce blackouts, and carry power supplies generated by wind and solar energy to all corners of the nation.

Boost U.S. Manufacturing of Energy-Efficient Appliances: Senate Democrats will push legislation to create jobs and save consumers money by providing regulatory certainty to the U.S. appliance industry.  The global marketplace for the most energy efficient appliances is increasingly competitive.  Stronger efficiency standards for U.S. appliances will encourage the development of a robust domestic market, and make American-made appliances more marketable abroad. The Implementation of National Consensus Appliance Agreements Act of 2011 (INCAAA), would save consumers more than $43 billion by 2020 and create thousands of new American jobs.  These standards, when combined with the planned Department of Energy standards for 2011 – 2013, would create 42,000 jobs by the year 2020, and 98,000 jobs by 2030.

End China’s Unfair Currency Manipulation: Economists and financial analysts agree that China’s currency is substantially undervalued.  China’s currency manipulation effectively reduces the cost of imports from China and increases the cost of U.S. goods exported to China.  In order to level the playing field and help U.S. businesses compete with China, Senate Democrats will support legislation that would give clear authority to the Administration to respond to China’s undervalued currency – including allowing the U.S. government to impose duties on subsidized imports.  The bill would impose stiff new penalties on designated countries, including tariffs on the countries’ exports, and restrict the ability of companies from those countries to receive U.S. government contracts.


Give Students Tools For Success In Competitive Economy and Build a High-Skilled Workforce

Build a Competitive Workforce: Senate Democrats will seek to enact legislation to help more Americans prepare for 21st century jobs by improving workforce development systems.  Reauthorizing the Workforce Investment Act, which was passed in 1998, would provide states and localities with greater flexibility to meet the changing needs of local economies, workers, job-seekers, and employers.  The changes are designed to ensure that  job seekers have access to training opportunities and skills development that lead to good-paying jobs and opportunities for advancement, while also providing employers with access to the skilled workforce they need to spur economic development. Over the past year, more than 7.2 million Americans entered employment upon completion of these employment and training services. As part of the competitive workforce initiative, Senate Democrats will also advance work share programs to help people keep their jobs and help companies avoid expensive re-hiring and re-training costs.  Mark Zandi with Moody’s estimates that for every dollar invested in work share, $1.69 would be added to our economy’s output.

Reform America’s Schools to Educate the Entrepreneurs of the Future: The reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act provides Senate Democrats with an important opportunity to fix the No Child Left Behind law.  Senate Democrats will promote changes to help states meet the new goal of all students graduating from high school prepared for college and a career, and help give teachers and school leaders the tools they need to prepare students to succeed in an increasingly competitive economy.

Expand the American Opportunity Tax Credit:  Senate Democrats will expand and make permanent the college tuition tax credit, which gives families up to $2,500 a year in tax credits to help pay tuition and other education expenses for each child in college.  A college degree is the ticket to prosperity for our children in this increasingly competitive economy, but it is priced as a luxury.  Senate Democrats want to make sure every American who wants and deserves to go to college can afford to do so.