I love American cities. I believe in them. I am proud to live in one.
I reject the notion that any city, neighborhood, or even block should be looked down upon, denigrated, or have its riches and potential ignored.
Our cities are powerful and beautiful, and like every person who lives in them, each one has profound dignity, worth, and potential.
But too many communities are being left behind.
It is estimated that more than 50 million Americans live in economically distressed communities. These Americans face profound obstacles to success that their peers living in more prosperous places do not — obstacles that mean hardworking families can live in the same state but worlds apart; young people can grow up within just a few miles of each other but have drastically different chances at success.
Our country’s greatest natural resource isn’t oil, gas, or coal — it’s the genius and potential of our people.
When we fail to empower all of our people, we fail to fully empower our national potential.
The American economy and so many hardworking Americans would be far better off if every community could realize its full entrepreneurial potential.
That’s why today, South Carolina Senator Tim Scott and I joined with Representatives Ron Kind and Pat Tiberi to introduce the bipartisan Investing in Opportunity Act.
We have a tax code that outrageously incentivizes overseas investment and the purchase of private jets — it’s time to think about how we redirect capital to help hard working Americans. This bill is an important part of that rethinking of incentives in our tax code.
In an era of capital moving overseas or going toward uses that don’t maximize opportunity for most Americans, our legislation will help bring down some of the barriers to investment, jumpstart economic development, and boost entrepreneurship by stimulating the flow of capital into the communities that need it most, from Camden to Newark and beyond.
Senator Scott, Rep. Kind, Rep. Tiberi, and I represent very different parts of the country and often approach issues from very different perspectives, but we agree that investing in American cities isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s smart policy.
We also recognize that the private sector has a vital role to play when it comes to revitalizing our distressed communities.
American investors have trillions of dollars in capital sitting on the sidelines that, if invested in struggling communities, could make a world of difference.
Our bill would create a framework for investors to inject capital into these communities by pooling resources into funds that could be used for funding new businesses, investing in local infrastructure projects or developing abandoned properties. And by favoring long-term investments in these funds, we better incentivize not just new investments but long-term commitments.
The problems facing our country’s struggling communities are complex, but they aren’t intractable. I believe that our cities can thrive and boom as centers of arts, innovation, education, environmental advancement and economic generation. They should be glorious testimonies to our highest ideals of citizenship, interdependent accomplishment, and democratic potential.
We know that the American dream will only be realized when we make it real everywhere and for everyone.
I believe in American cities because I believe in America.
I believe that, after years of neglect, injury and insult, our cities must be seen for what they are: the best hope we have to be who we say we are: one nation, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.