Former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell speaks to Diane Rehm on Infrastructure Investment
Former Pennsylvania Governor, and Building America's Future Co-chair, Ed Rendell was interviewed on The Diane Rehm Show yesterday about America's much-needed infrastructure revamp. The Building America's Future Educational Fund recently released a report aimed at bringing the issue of America's crumbling infrastructure to the forefront of today's political debate.
The Building America's Future report titled "Falling Apart & Falling Behind" breaks down into three sections:
• The first chronicles America's failing infrastructure, and cites numerous examples of neglected and underfunded public projects throughout the country. Perhaps just as frightening (if not more) is the nation’s infrastructure deficit - now at $2.3 trillion, and growing.
• The second section compares America to international competitors (Canada, England, China, Germany, Japan, Brazil) and how each of these countries has instituted infrastructure growth programs. For example, China spends almost 10% of its GDP on transportation, infrastructure, and maintenance. In 2005, the World Economic Forum placed the economic competitiveness of U.S. infrastructure at the top of the world rankings; subsequently the U.S. has fallen to 15th. "In rail infrastructure we're 18th in the world, in port infrastructure 22nd in the world, and in the air transport infrastructure we're 32nd in the world behind countries like Panama, Malaysia, and Chile," said Gov. Rendell.
• The third part of the report, titled "Recommendations and Reform," provides a list of much-needed initiatives. One of these is a National Infrastructure Strategy for the next decade designed to make "choices based on economics, not politics." Another proposed reform is the creation of a National Infrastructure Bank that leverages private funding for large projects as suggested in Sen. Kerry and Sen. Hutchinson's BUILD Act (S. 652). This idea has been gaining popularity lately. This Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM)-endorsed recommendation is made in reports by both the New America Foundation's Task Force on Job Creation and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Governor Rendell’s was asked by Diane Rehm why America's infrastructure has gotten so “bad." His response:
We haven't had a strategic infrastructure vision since Dwight D. Eisenhower did the interstate highway plan. We've let infrastructure spending go down each-and-every year. When Ike left office we were spending 12% of our non-military domestic spending on infrastructure. Today we're spending less than 2.5% on infrastructure and it's gotten that way in part because we've neglected it and in part because of this mania that exists that we cannot spend money on anything; even when it's investing in something that will save us money in the long run.
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