Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell said Monday a congressional “super committee” appointed to find ways to cut the federal deficit may find that spending more on U.S. infrastructure a worthy investment.
“It’s our hope that sometime between now and Thanksgiving when the special super committee reports that it will look at not just deficit reduction, but what we need to keep America competitive, and what we need to create jobs,” Rendell said. “If they do, we hope they will recommend this kind of long-term program.”
Rendell has been a vocal advocate for infrastructure investment at $10 billion for 10 years. The amount would cover improvement to such infrastructure as the national electric grid, telecommunications, and water resources in addition to transportation.
He called a proposed House transportation bill “seriously deficient.” The six-year proposal would cut annual highway spending by 30 percent from the last multi-year transportation program.
“That should be unacceptable to anybody who cares about the American economy or our economic future,” Rendell said. Instead, he favored a two-year Senate proposal that would keep current spending levels. “That would be the preferable way to go rather than accept a six year bill at a reduced level.”
Rendell also is chairman of Building America’s Future, a bipartisan group headed by himself, former California Gov. Arnold Schwarznegger and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
The group on Monday issued “Falling Apart and Falling Behind,” a report outlining the consequences of decaying infrastructure in the U.S. To illustrate the problem, Rendell said China is buying high-grade coal for steelmaking from Australia rather than from the U.S. U.S. The main reason was that transportation costs to move the coal to port in the U.S. are four times higher in the U.S.
In addition to the long-term spending strategy, the U.S. should create national infrastructure bank to attract private infrastructure investment, and capitalize it at $5 billion per year for 10 years.
-- Contact R.G. Edmonson at email@example.com.