Who has your vote? Believe it or not, there is one platform that each of the two primary presidential candidates agrees on and that is the need and importance of the US Infrastructure.
On June 29, 1956, President Dwight Eisenhower signed the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956. The bill created a 41,000-mile “National System of Interstate and Defense Highways” that would, according to Eisenhower, eliminate unsafe roads, inefficient routes, traffic jams and all of the other things that got in the way of “speedy, safe transcontinental travel.” At the same time, highway advocates argued, “in case of atomic attack on our key cities, the road network [would] permit quick evacuation of target areas”. For all of these reasons, the 1956 law declared that the construction of an elaborate expressway system was “essential to the national interest”.
That statement remains true today. The economy of the United States depends on our nation’s transportation infrastructure. Every day, tens of millions of people commute to work in the United States using public roads and transportation systems. Traffic congestion costs $960 per driver.
We move $14 trillion dollars of freight in the United States and 75% of this is carried via truck and is transported using the nation’s highways, railroads, ports, and inland waterways. Significant and on-going investment is required to maintain this system, conduct periodic repairs, and expand our nation’s transportation systems to safely handle movement of greater numbers of goods and people.
The facts make it clear that the state of public financing for transportation infrastructure warrants serious attention. Federal spending as a share of GDP has fallen and the federal Highway Trust Fund which is the designated source of revenue for spending on our nation’s highways does not meet these needs as it is today. The primary source of funding for the HTF is the federal gas tax, but that tax has not been raised since 1993.
Our lack of infrastructure spending is not only an area of potential national defense; it is also making us less competitive with other countries. The United States is currently ranked 14th, and falling, as far as investment into infrastructure. An efficient and reliable transportation infrastructure facilitates the transactions that enable the economy to grow and to create private sector jobs.
Everyone agrees on the need for increased investment in America’s aging infrastructure, including roads, bridges, and airports. However, determining how to fund and finance infrastructure investment presents important policy and political challenges. We can support tax increases, not across the board, but as it relates to funding the improvement of Infrastructure.
Investing in our infrastructure not only pays for itself, but according to the White House Council of Economic Advisers, every $1 billion in infrastructure investment creates 13,000 jobs. The vast majority of the jobs created by infrastructure investment will pay above the national median salary. Beyond creating good-paying jobs today, infrastructure investments promise to enhance the productivity of the American economy tomorrow, boosting the incomes of working Americans in the future.
Every dollar of infrastructure investment leads to an estimated $1.60 increase in GDP the following year and twice that over the subsequent 20 years.
The direct benefits to our companies are improved and sustainable economic growth and operating efficiencies within our Companies including but not limited to reduced commutes, improved customer service and increasing our competitive advantage over companies that import. Last but certainly not least, in these times of what seems like daily threats of terrorism, let us remember why our Interstate system was developed.
What can we do? VOTE! Not just for President, but for your local Representatives, Congressman and Senators. Make sure your voice is heard. Be aware of the issues that they support and advocate for and be informed on the necessity of Infrastructure spending!
Secondarily I am an advocate for term limits across the board. This should allow our elected officials to be more focused on the issues and less focused on getting re-elected.
In closing, I ask you to do your homework. Share the facts. Educate your co-workers, your families, your peers. The year may be 2016, but the needs for Infrastructure spending are as critical now as they were in 1956 and they are “essential to the national interest.”
As always I look forward to hearing your comments, please feel free to contact me.