Infrastructure Work Is Needed And People Need The Work

We’ve been deferring maintenance of our infrastructure since the Reagan tax cuts – never mind modernizing to restore American competitiveness. It is something that has to be done anyway, and here we are with so many people needing work. It’s just nuts. Millions of jobs that need doing, and millions out of work, and we can’t connect the dots.

Finally SOME people in DC are trying to get some jobs going. “Senior Senate Democrats” are proposing “a large infrastructure package funded by tax increases” and that is exactly what the country NEEDS. From The Hill last week, Do more on jobs, Dems tell Obama,

Senior Senate Democrats are growing frustrated by what they see as President Obama’s passivity on the economy, and are beginning to discuss a large infrastructure package funded by tax increases.

. . . “I am concerned about the Obama administration’s approach on this,” Harkin said. “It always has been about jobs. I think the administration kind of got snookered talking about the deficit and the debt after the last election.

“The last election was about jobs and the economy, and now we’re in a position where we really do need some economic pump-priming by the federal government,” he said.

Has To Be Done Anyway

The country needs this infrastructure work done anyway. Since the Reagan tax cuts we have been putting off maintenance of our infrastructure. And this is catching up to us.

Experts say $2 trillion of infrastructure work is needed just to catch up. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Infrastructure Report Card, says a $2.2 trillion investment is needed to bring the country up to current standards. ASCE says, “Years of delayed maintenance and lack of modernization have left Americans with an outdated and failing infrastructure that cannot meet our needs.”

Imagine where the economy would be today if this work had been done as needed. We would have a well-maintained infrastructure, keeping our businesses competitive in the world, not to mention where we would be with an additional $2 trillion of employment and the resulting savings, homes, kids sent to school… This is a measure of the cost of the Reagan tax cuts and the pullback of public investment it caused.

Another measure is the resulting attitudes. Here we are with millions out of work, and millions of jobs that need doing, and we can’t even get going on doing the needed work! So the continued lack of investment in our public structures will have future costs as well.

“Falling Dramatically Behind”

Recently the Urban Land Institute issued a report on the country’s infrastructure, showing how we are falling behind countries like Brazil, China and India. The Washington Post covered the report last month, in Study: $2 trillion needed for U.S. infrastructure

The United States is falling dramatically behind much of the world in rebuilding and expanding an overloaded and deteriorating transportation network it needs to remain competitive in the global marketplace, according to a new study by the Urban Land Institute.

Burdened with soaring deficits and with long-term transportation plans stalled in Congress, the United States has fallen behind three emerging economic competitors — Brazil, China and India, the institute said.

[. . .] As Congress debates how much should be spent and where to find the money, China has a plan to spend $1 trillion on high-speed rail, highways and other infrastructure in five years. India is nearing the end of a $500 billion investment phase that has seen major highway improvements, and plans to double that amount by 2017. Brazil plans to spend $900 billion on energy and transportation projects by 2014.

According to the report,

  • … the U.K. has committed Us$326 billion (£200 billion) over the next five years to continue national infrastructure projects focused on rail, energy production, and broadband access, with an emphasis on reducing the nation’s carbon emissions through investments in renewable energy.
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