For years America’s infrastructure was the envy of the world, but no longer.
Most people in the United States agree we need to make a massive investment in our nation’s infrastructure; however, we cannot agree on how to pay for it. As Congress takes up the issue, we urge them to join the growing legion of supporters for a new National Infrastructural Bank (NIB), to be established if the recently introduced H.B. 3339 is enacted.
The need for such an institution was underscored yet again when the Society of Civil Engineers gave the nation a C- in its quadrennial infrastructure report card. We need to spend nearly $5 trillion to bring our infrastructure into good repair. Highlights of the report card include:
• A water main breaks every two minutes; an estimated 6 billion gallons of treated water is wasted each day.
• Growing wear and tear on our nation’s roads have left 43% of our public highways in poor or mediocre condition.
• Currently, 42% of bridges are at least 50 years old; 46,154 are considered structurally deficient – in “poor” condition but remain in use and waiting to collapse.
Fixes have been put off until absolutely necessary. U.S. airports, roads and public transportation facilities draw frequent comparison to those in less developed countries. Meanwhile, Europe, and Asia have leapt ahead with so-called smart cities, high speed trains and eco-friendly buildings. In 2019, the United States ranked 13th in the world in a broad measure of infrastructure quality – down from fifth place in 2002, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report.
In New Mexico, 30% of roads are in poor condition, and each driver pays nearly $700 in auto repairs, while one in five households have no broadband, often because there is no service or it is not affordable. This was brought home in a significant way when far too many students were unable to participate when schools were forced to close during the pandemic.
Congress will likely fund one trillion of this through the budget, far short of what is needed to be competitive globally. NIB can finance the remainder of the $5 trillion needed for traditional infrastructure; it can also be used to expand investment in new manufacturing centers, broadband access as well as advances in science and technology.
The NIB will be capitalized with existing Treasury debt, requiring no new federal taxes. It will be capitalized at $500 billion and able to invest $5 trillion to repair and construct new infrastructure. The NIB is modeled on previous banks used by past presidents to build much of our infrastructure. President Washington used the NIB process to fuel the energy needed to grow the birth of the nation, Adams to reinvigorate the economy following the War of 1812, Lincoln to keep the economy going and win the Civil War and Roosevelt to recover from the Great Depression and win WWII.
The NIB will create 25 million new high-paying jobs, pay Davis-Bacon wages, and include buy-American provisions. It will ensure robust hiring and support of businesses led by people of color. It will supercharge industry and small businesses.
We must make a commitment now. We are losing a race with China, Europe and other developed countries. China is not only investing trillions domestically but also building influence among small countries by providing loans and grants for infrastructure projects. The race to be the global economic leader also includes developing the technologies of the future. The NIB is the best way to restore the U.S. as a leading country by providing a more modern system of transportation, education and communication for future generations.
You can help build that future by contacting your U.S. representative and senators today and encouraging them to support the National Infrastructure Bank by enacting HB 3339.