Finally! A Serious Proposal on Infrastructure

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Barack Obama has just announced support for a national infrastructure bank — similar to the one that Senators Chris Dodd and Chuck Hagel have been pushing for in Congress.
This is really important for the nation — and helps to get back to sensible thinking about rebuilding the foundation on which this country’s commerce, jobs base, social networks, just about everything that requires connectivity is based. Dems — particularly budget hawks — are in a bind because the stress on the discretionary part of the national budget is going to preempt any ‘politics of optimism’ if we can’t distinguish between capital investments in national infrastructure that will help drive forward growth and gains for the economy — and other kinds of disbursements that have less of an impact on economic growth.
This is great. To be fair, Hillary Clinton has talked a lot about infrastructure in the debates and in her speeches. . .but to my knowledge she had not proposed anything as tangible as this national infrastructure bank concept.
It’s about time — and it makes sense. Good for Senator Obama. I hope that Hillary Clinton joins up to the idea.
Here are Obama’s words on the subject delivered today in Janesville, Wisconsin at a GM assembly plant:

For our economy, our safety, and our workers, we have to rebuild America. I’m proposing a National Infrastructure Reinvestment Bank that will invest $60 billion over ten years.
This investment will multiply into almost half a trillion dollars of additional infrastructure spending and generate nearly two million new jobs — many of them in the construction industry that’s been hard hit by this housing crisis. The repairs will be determined not by politics, but by what will maximize our safety and homeland security; what will keep our environment clean and our economy strong.
And we’ll fund this bank by ending this war in Iraq. It’s time to stop spending billions of dollars a week trying to put Iraq back together and start spending the money on putting America back together instead.

Truth in advertising. The New America Foundation where I work is working hard to move national infrastructure investment forward as evident in this article by Samuel Sherraden and this piece, “Public Investment Works” by Sherle R. Schwenninger and Bernard L. Schwartz.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

12 comments on “Finally! A Serious Proposal on Infrastructure

  1. dave says:

    One excellent infrastructure project that President elect Barack Obama may consider is the Trans-Global Highway, which was proposed by Frank X. Didik to physically link the continents together. It would open up an era of global understanding and cooperation and would limit climate change while maintaining our international trade network. Extensive details on the well thought out Trans-Global Highway site is located at http://www.TransGlobalHighway.com.

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  2. Azor says:

    It is a bill that Dodd and Hagel have worked on for a couple of years, and that they introduced last summer, and they had a press conference about it the morning of the very same day the Minneapolis bridge collapsed in the afternoon. Clinton signed as a cosponsor right after the bill was introduced, and Obama the other day, when he gave his speech. The authorship and bragging rights for the idea go exclusively to Dodd and Hagel though. http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d110:SN01926:@@@P and http://dodd.senate.gov/index.php?q=node/4002

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  3. Scratchy says:

    So, which is it? Can Steve clarify?

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  4. Mr.Murder says:

    Amileoj,
    That cannot get in the way of narrative. “Barack said it first,” that it was reported….
    Perhaps Steve will review the story’s main assertion.

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  5. Amileoj says:

    Apologies for the double post.

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  6. Amileoj says:

    Mr. Clemons,
    As it happens, Sen. Clinton is a co-sponsor of the Dodd-Hegel National Infrastructure Bank Act. The following is an excerpt from a speech she gave on August 8 2007:
    This is an issue whose time has come. And I’m proud to co-sponsor Senator Dodd and Senator Hagel’s National Infrastructure Bank Act that we just introduced to establish a federally-backed independent bank that will evaluate and finance large infrastructure projects by subsidies, loan guarantees, and bonds backed by the full faith and credit of the United States.
    The entire speech can be found here:
    http://www.hillaryclinton.com/news/speech/view/?id=3889

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  7. Amileoj says:

    Mr. Clemons,
    As it happens, Sen. Clinton is a co-sponsor of the Dodd-Hegel National Infrastructure Bank Act. The following is an excerpt from a speech she gave on August 8 2007:
    This is an issue whose time has come. And I’m proud to co-sponsor Senator Dodd and Senator Hagel’s National Infrastructure Bank Act that we just introduced to establish a federally-backed independent bank that will evaluate and finance large infrastructure projects by subsidies, loan guarantees, and bonds backed by the full faith and credit of the United States.
    The entire speech can be found here:
    http://www.hillaryclinton.com/news/speech/view/?id=3889

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  8. JohnH says:

    Massachusetts is the test case for mandates. Last I checked they are trying to collect hundreds of dollars in penalties per family from the working poor. Good Luck! Sounds pretty Dickensian to me.
    The real answer is Edwards’ plan to offer a fully self-funding government healthcare program as competition. That would force down prices without destroying the free market.
    I agree that any plan will have to keep people from gaming the system. It’s not clear that mandates are the solution, particulary when they involve piling it onto people who have enough problems as it is.
    http://tpmcafe.talkingpointsmemo.com/2008/02/04/krugman_wrong_on_obama_and_man/

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  9. Mr.Murder says:

    Sixty trillion becomes five hundred trillion over ten years’ time?
    THE MATH doesn’t match.
    Still it’s a great starting point. IMO no President can come up with a fully comprehensive plan. Doing so takes out the advisory role the Legislature, where the jobs and money direction really work to constituencies.
    That’s what makes the plan a bit more workable from a stealth perspective. Subtly made, with room to expand as Congress starts on it, not in a starting range that brings up the cost denizens who want to play obstructionist. Based on an understanding of the way things will run, a low ball estimate with room to expand.
    Previously I’ve mentioned we could do that with energy infrastructure, underwritten in part with bonding ordinances backed from surplus Social Security. That way, paying the loan would be a form of insurance and payment to citizens. Reciprocal items maximize the dollar value across categories of use and create jobs.
    This plan of Obama’s could be tainted as well. Previously we’ve placed mandates on states to provide matching funds under Bushco. and it’s forced smaller states to boost tax rates to meet obligations beyond a reasonable expectation. Huge states can pony up the cash and claim all of the funding while the others languish. Bridges are falling apart right now for that reason.
    Is this really that much different, an effort to make states pay out and owe up to a new extent? What collateral repays aside from cash? Water rights? Hello Bush budget, in real time.
    Let’s see more of it at the links. I know why Hagel is pushing it, the steel mill here owns another franchise in his state. If this is done, let’s give priority to American manufacturing, and source the supplies from within America, as the Nucor steel products do, with a focus on recycling.
    That would be a way to maximize sourcing and dollars within the states.
    Apologies for any missed spelling, spellcheck won’t mough function, have got to reboot and see the articles to more depth.

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  10. Steve Clemons says:

    JohnH — thanks for your note and applause for Obama. Specific proposals, kicking around details, etc are what matter to me. I’ll leave hope and the ethereal for others to play with.
    But on health care — i have to disagree. I still believe that Obama’s plan, while better, will create a situation where those on the bottom end of society remain uncovered — and that’s not good enough. It’s not…and it promulgates a problem we have now — which is that by choice some in good health with the finances elect not to be part of a comprehensive health care system. We need them in in order to subsidize those without the ability to pay.
    You also need cost controls of some sort — clearly. I think Obama and HRC get that — but I divide towards those who believe the mandate is essential.
    best, Steve

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  11. JohnH says:

    This economic proposal puts Obama fully in synch with the 3 top things on most Americans’ wish list for the nation: a strong economy, available and affordable healthcare, and an end to the war. Plus, hope is the perfect antidote to the fearmongering of the last 7 years.
    Hillary still doesn’t get it on the war.

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  12. Tahoe Editor says:

    If all that war money should be going to schools & bridges, why didn’t Barry take Dennis’s principled stand instead of funding Bush’s war in lock step with Hillary? Challenge: See if you can answer this question without the phrase “punishing the troops.”

    Reply

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