Thursday, February 11 , 2016, 6:06 pm | Fair 68º

Tom Donohue: Business and Labor Agree — Let’s Rebuild America

Modernizing infrastructure will create jobs and economic growth

By Tom Donohue |

Politics can make for strange bedfellows. Case in point: Last week I joined AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka to testify on infrastructure investment before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. Trumka and I don’t agree on much, but we believe that modernizing infrastructure will create jobs and economic growth.

Our infrastructure is crumbling, and it’s past time we did something about it. Congress has an excellent opportunity this year when it reauthorizes SAFETEA-LU — the legislation that funds highway and transit projects.

Lawmakers should follow these six principles:

» First, Congress must ensure that federal transportation policy, programs and resources are oriented around national needs. Over the years, these programs began to put political expediency ahead of investments benefiting the nation as a whole. We need to refocus on investing for performance that will add to long-term economic growth.

» Second, we must adopt strategies and technologies to reduce congestion, improve mobility in urban areas and maximize the use of existing assets. The Texas Transportation Institute just updated its Urban Mobility Report, and the news isn’t good. Motorists spend $808 a year in lost time and wasted fuel.

» Third, the bill must help ensure rural connectivity. The majority of the United States’ natural and agricultural resources are located in rural areas. Congress should make investments in small communities and rural areas that will tie them to major economic and population centers.

» Fourth, Congress should develop a comprehensive freight program to ensure adequate capacity, reduce congestion and increase throughput at key highway, rail, waterway and intermodal choke points. The growth in international trade is overwhelming freight capacity, and it’s only going to get worse.

» Fifth, Congress and the administration must maximize the use of existing infrastructure and streamline project delivery for new infrastructure. Siting and permitting processes for new infrastructure create significant delays, resulting in inefficiencies across the system, increased project costs and trouble with financing.

» Finally, the bill’s underlying concern must always be safety. It is a national disgrace that nearly 34,000 Americans die on our highways every year — or 100 people every day. It’s unacceptable, and we can do more to prevent these senseless deaths.

To rebuild America, we need more than good ideas. We need money. Every option — from federal funding to private investment — must be on the table. And the money must be spent wisely.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is committed to rebuilding America and will work with anyone to advance this goal.

— Tom Donohue is president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

» on 02.23.11 @ 02:53 PM

Let’s all get into the construction trade!  Unemployed service industry workers, join the union, and get stimulus job.  Unemployed home builders, you too!  Unemployed everybody, don’t work what you went to school, trained for or else want to do for a living.  Join a union and do construction work!  After all, then you can take vacations, go to lunches and generally spend your union money to stimulate the economy and everyone will have jobs.
Would these be “shovel ready” infrastucture projects?  Will it be high speed rail, which will eventually have to be subsidized?  What happens when there is a fly that can’t cross the freeway or a vernal shrimp that no one has ever seen, that will stop these projects?
Infrastructure is limiting for the entire work force.  Sure there are residuals, such as materials used (most likely made in China), vehicle and equipment maintenance (most union construction companies have their own maintenance crew), etc.
Why don’t they ever push less regulation on businesses and manufacturing, cutting corporate taxes (2nd highest in the world), or going after our own natural resources.  There are more options than infrastructure, to get this country going again!  We have Democrats that actually want to punish Canada for going after their oil sands and selling the gas and oil to the USA!  Of course, China is helping them build a pipeline to Vancouver!  If we don’t take it, guess who is getting it?!  China is also buying up all the minerals in the world that will provide the future green driven technologies, such as batteries.
When are we going to wake up!

» on 02.23.11 @ 06:36 PM

Sorry Tom but all this make work stuff has got to go. When Ike signed the transportation bill ushering in the interstate and defense highway system we were a bustling country producing goods and services at a healthy surplus. Now we consume way more than we produce and borrow the difference to prop up our cozy lifestyles.

Fix wealth generating enterprises like mineral extraction, manufacturing and agriculture first. Get rid of institutions which hurt our competitiveness and erode our wealth generation. Give net wealth consuming services like finance, law and government the boot and watch this country take off. Rein in the dead weight of useless organizations like unions that just add to the already overloaded tax burden on our economy. That’s how you fix it. Not a bunch of make work projects that actually prolong the economic malaise.

It is now known that most of the big spending deficit producing programs of the FDR era actually prolonged the depression for up to 10 years. WWII did not get us out of it like many speculate. What got us out was the building of an enormous manufacturing base to support the war machine. When that base converted to domestic commercial uses we enjoyed a huge boom in our economy, aided of course by copious domestic supplies of oil.

We are now hawking our wealth generating manufacturing base at an alarming rate, to which some erroneously believe does not matter. They see the American manufacturing economy, twice as large as the next 5 combined, as immune to death. Not true and it does not matter how big we are to others. What matters is how much wealth we produce against how much wealth we consume and the biggest indicators of that ratio are public and private debt and the trade deficit. Right now our combined debt is twice the size of our economy and we are shipping half a trillion dollars of wealth offshore every year. If this doesn’t keep you up at night then you have no brain. Think about it. Lose sleep over it. Worry your lavish lifestyle asses off over it, because it is real and it is very bad.

Status quo, make work, unions, big government all must go.  We need to produce our own energy and damned cheap at that, make our own damned stuff and stop living beyond our means, period. There is no other America larger and more generous than we to bail us out, like we do for so many others.

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