As a nation, ours scored a D+ on the latest report card.
Blocked by Republican intransigence, we’ve been spectacularly “penny wise and pound foolish.”
(It costs a lot more to replace a bridge after it collapses than to maintain it so it doesn’t collapse — 10 times more so when you account for all the detours and traffic jams for the months required to rebuild.)
About the least “conservative” thing I can think of is cutting taxes as our infrastructure crumbles but that’s exactly what our Republican friends have for decades done.
So now comes a report from attorney Philip K. Howard, founder of Common Good (and author of The Death of Common Sense: How Law Is Suffocating America*) — no knee-jerk liberal he — that maintains:
Delays in approving infrastructure projects cost the nation more than twice what it would cost to fix the infrastructure, according to a new report released by Common Good, the nonpartisan government reform coalition. Those approvals can take a decade or longer, and the report shows that a six-year delay in starting construction on public projects costs the nation over $3.7 trillion, including the costs of prolonged inefficiencies. That’s more than double the $1.7 trillion needed through the end of this decade to modernize America’s decrepit infrastructure.
The report, Two Years, Not Ten Years: Redesigning Infrastructure Approvals, proposes a dramatic reduction of red tape so that infrastructure can be approved in two years or less.
I’m for it!
But it’s not just red tape that’s caused delays; it’s the G.O.P. that blocks spending. There was the American Jobs Act the President exhorted a nationally televised prime-time joint session of Congress to enact five years ago . . .
- Spending $50 billion on both new and pre-existing infrastructure projects.
- Spending $35 billion in additional funding to protect the jobs of teachers, police officers, and firefighters
- Spending $30 billion to modernize at least 35,000 public schools and community colleges.
- Spending $15 billion on a program that would hire construction workers to help rehabilitate and refurbishing hundreds of thousands of foreclosed homes and businesses.
- Creating the National Infrastructure Bank (capitalized with $10 billion), originally proposed in 2007, to help fund infrastructure via private and public capital.
- Creating a nationwide, interoperable wireless network for public safety, while expanding accessibility to high-speed wireless services.
. . . killed by the Republicans even though there were so many people desperate for work and the interest rate on borrowing to finance such projects was so phenomenally low (see: “GOP kills Jobs Bill Despite Majority Support”).
And there were numerous local examples — prime among them:
Florida’s Republican governor killing . . .
. . . the Obama administration’s marquee high-speed rail project, giving up a whopping $2.4 billion in federal funds for a Tampa-Orlando bullet train. This was the nation’s most shovel-ready high-speed project, and the state wasn’t required to spend a dime to build it; running through the heart of the politically sensitive I-4 corridor, it had bipartisan support in South Florida, where it was seen as a precursor to a long-awaited Orlando-Miami line . . .
And New Jersey’s Republican governor killing . . .
. . . a $12.4 billion tunnel that would have doubled commuter capacity to Manhattan. If Christie hadn’t stopped the Access to the Region’s Core project that began in 2009, mass-transit relief would have come as soon as 2018. Now he supports an approach, with new oversight by the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, that has no dedicated funding and would take at least 10 years. . . .
Only now that interest rates look set to start creeping back up, and unemployment has fallen from 10% to 5.1%, might we — possibly — begin to ramp up our infrastructure programs. The famous Republican “government shutdown” stunt that needlessly cost us $24 billion was dramatic and well publicised. But the delay of infrastructure revitalization, while less visible, is costing us trillions.
Have a great weekend — and vote Democrat if you think we should strive for better than a D+ on the infrastructure report card.
*”Every doctor and teacher frustrated by paperwork, every judge frustrated by mandatory sentencing guidelines, every banker and businessman tied in regulatory knots, every manager terrified to fire someone for doing a poor job – every taxpayer – will findThe Death of Common Sense a blood-boiler. What makes it important, though, is not its (amazing) anecdotes, but that it so elegantly synthesizes them…and points to solutions.” – Andrew Tobias
Quote of the Day
The Beardstown Ladies’ Common-Sense Investment Guide. A classic from the investment club that has outperformed Wall Street gurus three to one. ("It’s easy to get investment advice these days. But in this volatile market, it’s important to separate the faddish from the trustworthy.” The Beardstown Ladies, it turned out, had widely underperformed Wall Street.)~American Bookseller's December 1997 list of recommended investment books.
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