The U.S. has a long history as a beacon of economic opportunity for the world. This was achieved by investing in infrastructure that could sustain both citizens and businesses and allow them to grow and succeed.
That commitment has waned, however, in recent years. Government on all levels has not provided funding to keep pace with the nation’s road, transit and public works needs. The result is a crumbling mess that hampers the ability of workers to get to their jobs and in many cases accomplish their duties as well as they could otherwise. It also affects the bottom line of many companies and hinders the hiring of new employees.
Many Teamsters would profit from a renewed commitment to infrastructure. For instance, members of the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way would benefit from the additional work that would come from repairing and expanding railroad networks across the country.
There is a need to think big – real big. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is trying to do just that, unveiling a proposal that would spend $1 trillion over the next five years to beef up the country’s network of bridges, roads and mass transit that has fallen into disrepair. It’s not an outrageous request, given the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) has estimated that $3.6 trillion should be spent on infrastructure by 2020.
President Obama is also raising the ante on infrastructure, trotting out his own six-year, $478 billion plan for transportation improvements. It’s not as bold, but it’s a start. Now Congress just needs to get with the program.
There can be no denying the U.S. is in need of greater investment. ASCE noted in its most recent report card that the current state of American infrastructure only rates a D+. That’s no way to try and compete in today’s global economy.
“We know that investing in infrastructure is essential to support healthy, vibrant communities,” ASCE wrote in its 2013 report. “Infrastructure is also critical for long-term economic growth, increasing GDP, employment, household income, and exports. The reverse is also true – without prioritizing our nation’s infrastructure needs, deteriorating conditions can become a drag on the economy.”
This should be a matter that transcends politics. When there is an issue that helps both workers and businesses, that is a win-win for lawmakers. But there still seems to be hemming and hawing coming from some on Capitol Hill.
Rebuilding America is an issue everyone should support. It’s time for members of Congress to make a real investment that will benefit the American economy going forward.