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Author: Alan Caruba
Date:  January 19, 2009

Topic category:  Other/General

Infrastructure: Let’s Spend Money on It!

There is one aspect of President Obama’s proposed agenda that I like very much and it has to do with investing in the nation’s infrastructure of highways, bridges, ports and airfields.

There is one aspect of President Obama’s proposed agenda that I like very much and it has to do with investing in the nation’s infrastructure of highways, bridges, ports and airfields.

As a youth I can recall President Eisenhower and, from the vantage point of many decades later, I am amazed at how effective and foresighted he was. As President, perhaps his greatest legacy was the creation of a system of interstate highways. He funded it with a gas tax and it literally transformed the nation economically and socially.

Today, those highways, begun in 1972 and not finished until 1993 at a total cost of $130 billion, are in need of some serious maintenance and upgrade as are other elements of our infrastructure.

Attending to this vital national need will generate lots of jobs, well beyond construction. These are not the “green jobs” that Obama talks of, but real jobs that will produce real results in the form of an improved highway system, as well as the expansion of our ports and other transportation facilities.

Writing recently, Anthony Coscia, chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, had this to say about the nation’s infrastructure:

“America is literally falling apart. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, one-third of the nation’s major roads are in poor or mediocre condition and 26 percent of its bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.”

Back in September, the Washington Post reported that the Highway Trust Fund was about to run out of money before the end of the year. Left unmentioned, however, was why. Billions of the Fund’s money have been diverted to boost the production of ethanol. When the ethanol lobby realized it was going to be rightly blamed for potholes and collapsing bridges, it got the Energy Policy Act of 2005 passed to facilitate direct financing from the U.S. Treasury. Who voted for this? Sen. Barack Obama, Sen. Joe Biden, Sen. Tom Harkin, and Sen. Richard Lugar, to name a few.

“The nation’s air traffic control system still relies on radar technology dating from the 1960s, leading to chronic flight delays and near collisions on the runways. Traffic gridlock on the nation’s highways and airways costs the U.S. economy more than $100 billion annually.”

Part of the problem is that the State’s are responsible for some 75 percent of the cost of all infrastructure projects with the federal government picking up the rest. Governors, being politicians, know that highway repair is not a big vote-getter, so they have tended to ignore it. Some have actually leased parts of the nation’s highway system to foreign companies. Infrastructure is an American priority and should be funded by Americans.

Coscia notes that “The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates it will cost $1.6 trillion just to bring the nation’s infrastructure to a state of good repair.” This would be money well spent. Right now there are $79 billion in projects whose plans have been completed and could begin tomorrow if the money was available. The Obama administration and Congress need to make it available.

At issue, too, is where those projects are located. Bear in mind that 65 percent of America’s population lives in metropolitan areas and accounts for 75 percent of the economy. This is no time for more “bridges to nowhere.” The nation’s cities should be first in line to upgrade existing structures and add new ones.

Among those structures in desperate need of upgrade are the crumbling water mains in cities from Boston to Tampa to San Antonio and elsewhere, most of which were built generations ago. The estimated bill will be $277 billion according to the Environmental Protection Agency. What is more vital to life than water? Spend the money!

This is, ironically, a quintessential conservative cause even if it will take a recession and a nation’s capitol filled with liberals to make it happen. Republicans in office should embrace infrastructure as a key issue now that Congress has returned.

As Emil W. Henry, Jr., a former assistant treasury secretary from 2005 to 2007, wrote recently, “Like the maintenance of a strong military—investment that protects prosperity—investment in key infrastructure is consistent with Reagan principles.” He like so many others says “Our infrastructure needs are at a critical juncture.”

There will be voices opposing this task and they will all be from environmental groups like Friends of the Earth and the Sierra Club that are already on record as being against building new highways, new coal-fired or nuclear generation plants, and just about anything else that will ensure that our complex society can function and our economy can keep pace with the rest of the world.

Alan Caruba
National Anxiety Center


Alan Caruba writes a daily blog at http://factsnotfantasy.blogspot.com. Every week, he posts a column on the website of The National Anxiety Center, www.anxietycenter.com.

Biography - Alan Caruba

Alan Caruba passed on June 15, 2015. His keen wit, intellect, and desire to see that "right" be done will be missed by all who his life touched. His archives will remain available online at this site.

Alan Caruba was the founder of The National Anxiety Center, a clearinghouse for information about media-driven scare campaigns designed to influence public opinion and policy. A veteran public relations counselor and professional writer, Caruba emerged as a conservative voice through his weekly column, "Warning Signs", posted on the Center's Internet site (www.anxietycenter.com) and widely excerpted on leading sites including this one.

A member of the Society of Professional Journalists, the American Society of Journalists and Authors, and a charter member of the National Book Critics Circle, Caruba applied a wide-ranging knowledge of business, science, history and other topics to his examination of issues that included protecting our national sovereignty, environment and immigration, education and international affairs.

Caruba resided in New Jersey and had served in the US Army, had been an advisor to corporations, trade associations, universities, and others who used his public relations skills for many years. He maintained a business site at www.caruba.com.

Caruba performed many reviews of both fiction and non-fiction at Bookviews.Com, a popular site for news about books of merit that do not necessarily make it to the mainstream bestseller lists.

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