An Infrastructure Plan is Coming

By Matthew McMullan
Jan 25 2017 |
This way to Valparaiso and to infrastructure repair. | Photo by Doug Kerr

Will it be a smart one?

What should a big infrastructure investment from Washington, DC look like?

The ol’ Democrats on Capitol Hill have already come out with a proposal, trying to get a little daylight President Trump, who plans to offer up his own designs on the issue; and the congressional GOP, who will be at odds with the administration because fixing infrastructure is tantamount will require a spending increase. And Republicans don’t like spending.

It's gonna be a tricky for the GOP … their standard-bearer in the White House is pretty psyched to get this done, but they don't.

Still, lots of economists think spending on infrastructure will ultimately be good for America, because 1) that spending causes ripples of economic activity and 2) a modern and efficient infrastructure network makes the (American) businesses who use it more efficient too. We think infrastructure improvements are even more effective when they’re American-made.

But there are others still offering more specifics on what would make for a good infrastructure plan.

Enter mayors Eric Garcetti and Mick Cornett.

Cornett’s a Republican from Oklahoma City. Garcetti’s a Democrat from Los Angeles. A dynamic duo.

A good infrastructure plan, they write, would prioritize local municipalities that raise their own funds for projects …

No matter how willing Congress is to appropriate new discretionary funds for infrastructure, we cannot expect federal money alone to build through our nation’s infrastructure backlog.

Promote public-private partnerships, which make money go farther …

These partnerships bring to bear innovative financing tools, such as low-interest loans and tax-credit bonds, and project management processes that simply are not found in government.

And incentivize long-term maintenance …

Past practices have more often than not provided money to build, but not to maintain, leaving us with a mountain of deferred maintenance that forms the bulk of the $1 trillion price tag confronting taxpayers. This backlog must be reduced and never allowed to amass again.

Read their whole opinion here. And remember: When the government spends money on infrastructure projects, they should Buy American first