To increase good paying jobs for the middle class, I would introduce legislation to repair our crumbling infrastructure. Every day, we drive over bridges that are in disrepair and on roads with unforgiving potholes. We rank 22th in the world in terms of fixed broadband Internet access, which has serious implications for commerce, education, telemedicine, public safety, and world competitiveness. The problem is that for many years Congress and state legislatures have underfunded the maintenance of our nation’s infrastructure. That has to change. It is time to rebuild America. I would introduce legislation for a $1 trillion investment, over five years, to modernize our country’s physical infrastructure. The bill would not only rebuild our country’s infrastructure but it would also create and maintain millions of good-paying jobs.
My legislation would put millions of people to work repairing the backlog of infrastructure projects all across this country. Moreover, each project will require equipment, supplies, and services, and the hard-earned salaries from the jobs created will be spent in countless restaurants, shops, and other local businesses, small and large around the country. And, all of this economic activity will generate new tax revenues to pay for the services that Americans expect and deserve.
Just like my Campaign Finance Reform legislation, this proposal is neither right nor left, Republican or Democrat. In fact, groups from across the political spectrum – from organized labor to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce – agree that investing in infrastructure makes sound economic sense.
How to Pay for It
Every $1 of federal highway investment results in $1.80 to $2.00 in additional growth in goods and services. Every billion dollars in federal spending on transportation infrastructure, when combined with minimal state and local matching, supports or creates 34,500 jobs.
Unfortunately, Congress has not adequately supported the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) – which pays for the federal highway and transit programs – for years. The last hike of 18.4 cents a gallon took place on Oct. 1, 1993. Currently, the tax raises about $30 billion a year. This is a lot, but it is not enough. To get our infrastructure to a state of good repair by 2020, the American Society of Civil Engineers says we must invest $1.6 trillion more than what we now spend.
The average person pays $8 a month – or 8.6 tenths of a cent per mile ($0.0086/mile) – in federal fuel tax. For this, they have access to the nation’s interstates, urban and rural highways. Meanwhile, deficient surface transportation costs the average household $1060/year in vehicle maintenance. A 20 cent per gallon increase would mean about an additional $8 dollars a month – a reasonable amount for federal highway network users to pay to progress this network so it is more efficient, reliable and safe. A higher gasoline tax is one of the few economic policy ideas that big business groups and big labor unions agree on.