It's Agreed: We Need Infrastructure Investment To Bring Jobs


You know things are bad in this country when you have Tom Donohue, President of the US Chamber of Commerce, and Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO agreeing with one another. And when you have that kind of agreement, that means something so inarguable, so unassailable that to take a differing stance would forever paint you as an unserious idiot, unworthy of any attention.

And Tom Donohue, despite his treading on ethical and legal edges in his GOP pandering and international campaign money laundering, is no idiot. Despite all of his wailing and whinging over the deficit just a few short months ago, Donohue is fully on board the "let's get jobs" wagon.

And where do we get these jobs? Infrastructure.

[F]or too long, the nation's infrastructure policies have been kept separate and apart from the larger conversation about the U.S. economy. The benefits of infrastructure are frequently framed around short-term goals about job creation. While the focus on employment growth is certainly understandable, it is not the best way to target and deploy infrastructure dollars. And it means so-called "shovel ready projects" are all we can do while long-term investments in the smart grid, high-speed rail, and modern ports are stuck at the starting gate.

So in addition to the focus on job growth in the short term, we need to rebalance the American economy for the long term on several key elements: higher exports, to take advantage of rising global demand; low-carbon technology, to lead the clean-energy revolution; innovation, to spur growth through ideas and their deployment; and greater opportunity, to reverse the troubling, decades-long rise in inequality. Infrastructure is fundamental to each of those elements.

Yet while we know America's infrastructure needs are substantial, we have not been able to pull together the resources to make the requisite investments. And when we do, we often fail to make infrastructure investments in an economy-enhancing way. This is why the proposal for a national infrastructure bank is so important. If designed and implemented appropriately, it would be a targeted mechanism to deal with critical new investments on a merit basis, while adhering to market forces and leveraging the private capital we know is ready to invest here in the United States.

See, it's not that hard to figure out. Even Donohue admits as much. The issue is whether we're going to let this country be taken hostage over the GOP's overriding need to take Obama out of his job.


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