Americans need to act quickly to begin a 10 year effort to improve and build new transportation infrastructure, Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell said Thursday. He said a main component of the effort should be a national infrastructure bank.
Rendell told a conference hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that the goals for improving transportation infrastructure were public safety, quality of life, and economic competitiveness.
“The time to act is overdue,” Rendell said. “We’ve got to sound the siren call of urgency, and the infrastructure bank is the first foothold in this.”
Rendell called for a $400 billion per year infrastructure investment for 10 years. He said it’s the same amount the U.S. spends each year in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“The American people get it. They’re willing to spend money on infrastructure, but not the way that we spend it today with thousands and thousands of earmarks,” Rendell said. He said that politicians are perpetuating the myth that the country can’t invest in infrastructure and improve revenue at the same time.
Rendell said a $400 billion program would return $150 million in personal and corporate tax revenue from construction and manufacturing jobs created by an infrastructure program.
An infrastructure bank would galvanize private capital. “There is European money willing to invest in the U.S.,” Rendell said.
Both the White House and members of Congress have advanced the idea of an infrastructure bank as an independent institution to bring together public and private investment to capitalize major transportation projects. However, advocates say that the bank can’t do anything without Congress passing a comprehensive transportation spending bill that includes the bank.
While Congress was expected to pass a transportation bill this year, supporters’ hopes are fading because there are only a few weeks left in the legislative session.
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