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February 2015

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Rebuilding America

On Jan 3., Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders announced he would introduce legislation to invest $1 trillion to rebuild America's aged infrastructure, and modernize our roads, bridges and electrical infrastructure.

"America once led the world in building and maintaining a nationwide network of safe and reliable bridges and roads," he said. "Today, nearly a quarter of the nation's 600,000 bridges have been designated as structurally deficient or functionally obsolete."

And it's not just bridges. The American Society of Civil Engineers' most recent infrastructure report card — which examined the condition of everything from airports and water treatment facilities to docks and the electrical grid — gives the United States a D+.

Talking heads and many in Congress are already saying that the price tag is too big.

But as Larry Summers, former treasury secretary under Bill Clinton, wrote last fall, properly directed infrastructure investment reduces, not raises, government debt burdens. The International Monetary Fund found that every dollar of infrastructure spending raises output by nearly $3.

That's because a better transportation system, a more reliable electric grid, and modernized public facilities improve productivity and increase economic investment. And rebuilding America requires skilled workers — lots of them. The Center for Effective Government estimates that renovating public school buildings would alone create more than 140,000 construction jobs, supporting an additional 53,000 jobs in the local community alone.

China invests 9 percent of its GDP in infrastructure, while Europe invests 5 percent. The U.S.: 2.4 percent. We can't be a 21st century economy relying on 20th century technology.

To those who say we can't afford Sanders' bill I say: we can't afford to keep falling behind. Contact your representatives and find out where they stand on rebuilding America. We're ready to get to work.


Also: Hill: The Good News Read Hill's Column

Salvatore J. Chilia

Salvatore J. Chilia
International Secretary-Treasurer