Fixing the nation's infrastructure will create jobs, save lives, and keep the economy moving.

One of every four bridges in the country is either structurally deficient or functionally obsolete, and bringing them up to snuff will cost $140 billion, according to the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials. America's drinking water infrastructure is woefully underfunded; the Congressional Budget Office says we must invest at least $11.6 billion over the next 20 years. Highway congestion costs us $78 billion annually through the 4.2 billion hours and 2.9 billion gallons of gasoline we waste each year, according to the Texas Transportation Institute. The list goes on.

Dave Demerjian finds both presidential candidates wanting in their commitment to infrastructure rehabilitation, although Barack Obama has been more attentive to the issue, and more specific in policy proposals, than John McCain. Demerjian believes both are too timid. He proposes a national infrastructure initiative modeled after the WPA. That seems at least as worthy an investment of taxpayer dollars as the financial industry bailout.

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    Yep (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by TomStewart on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 05:48:28 PM EST
    Start a new WPA, put America back to work fixing a sorely neglected infrastructure. New roads, new bridges, and wind and solar farms. Close trade loopholes...hell, go back to the tariff system and protect the jobs that are here already!

    America needs dramatic change, we can't just go back to the ways of the Reagan-Bush years, they've crashed and burned. They didn't work for anyone but the already wealthy who pushed for them. Time for a new FDR, and a congress that will back him. Will Obama be that man? I don't know, but FDR wasn't supposed to be that man either...

    A thin reed, by your last sentence is what I cling (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by jawbone on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 06:32:20 PM EST

    Me too Jawbone (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by TomStewart on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 06:41:58 PM EST
    Me too.

    Why do we only repeat the mistakes? (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by nycstray on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 06:19:28 PM EST
    It's not like we can't look at these programs and retool them to work now. Seems like common sense to me, but what do I know?

    And this time, perhaps we could (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by Cream City on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 07:59:24 PM EST
    figure out how to avoid the recession of the late '30s -- as the Second New Deal didn't pay for itself, worthy as it was for what it did achieve when people were starving.  So it did contribute to an economic imbalance again -- one which was solved by going to war again.  

    Plus, the WPA and almost every New Deal program was for white men -- as the government opted to ignore that many women were heads of households or single and self-sufficient, too.  This time, let's remember to redistribute this wealth to women and minorities as well.

    The good ol' days weren't perfect.:-)


    I have a bad habit (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by nycstray on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 08:36:52 PM EST
    of picturing some of the changes needed with a certain woman in charge  ;)

    Couple of my fav artists took part in the WPA.

    the WPA also provided federal funding for students, who were given work under the National Youth Administration. The careers of several important American artists, including Jackson Pollack and Willem de Kooning, were also launched thanks to WPA endowments.

    actually, a new WPA (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by cpinva on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 06:48:41 PM EST
    That seems at least as worthy an investment of taxpayer dollars as the financial industry bailout.

    would be far more worthy than the current bailout scheme, it would actually target the core issue with a fair chunk of the problem mortgages: unemployment.

    the two issues are mutually inclusive, but are being treated as totally unrelated. must be all those harvard and wharton MBA's at work.

    On what. . . (none / 0) (#8)
    by LarryInNYC on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 07:32:56 PM EST
    do you base the argument that the mortgage meltdown is due to unemployment?  My understanding is that it was due to imprudent lending and new categories of mortgages that made it possible to postpone "real" repayment for several years.

    Breath Holding considered harmful (none / 0) (#3)
    by koshembos on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 06:20:24 PM EST
    There is no point discussing McCain; hopefully he'll lose and badly. In any event he is a walking catastrophe. In the case of president Obama the chances of a new WPA are minimal. It works, mainly, for the poor and big construction companies; neither is his constituents. His treasure tzar is not likely to be any of Clinton's former guys and more likely to be one of his "no need for universal health care" and "let's reconsider social security" guys. These guys are poison for liberal goals.

    I'd like to see massive infrastructure. . . (none / 0) (#7)
    by LarryInNYC on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 07:31:40 PM EST
    spending to kick-start the economy.  If we're going to spend all that money, at least we should deal with some important national issues.

    But let's not kid ourselves about the employment consequences.  In the WPA, tens of thousands of men were put to work manually constructing roads and national park facilities and the like.  Similar endeavors today would occupy only a small fraction of the people it took to do the same job in the 1930s.

    Yes (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by CST on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 07:38:34 PM EST
    But I am one of those people this time.

    Give ME a job!  I promise not to propose 20 lane highways and cul-de-sacs.


    Well (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by cal1942 on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 07:54:00 PM EST
    many WPA projects and activities were labor intensive.  Deliberately labor intensive in some cases. But our infrastructure needs today include a complete nationwide electrical grid to take advantage of emerging energy technology.  That's one enomous project.

    Today we're still using a great deal of infrastructure that the WPA put in place.  A massive updating of all the various forms of infrastructure is not just warranted but necessary and the bonus is that the effort will pay long term dividends.  This is what Joseph Stiglitz talked about when he said that "all deficits are not created equal."

    Al Gore suggested in  2000 that our public schools were in need of bricks and mortar help. He was right but was ridiculed by Bush and the GOP for that claim.

    During the Great Depression the WPA among many, many other things, built and or repaired a considerable number of schools and in so doing extended educational opportunity. There is certainly a need for similar efforts today.

    A few years ago the American Society of Civil Engineers estimated that bringing our various public infrastructure up to date would cost $1.5 trillion.  That's trillion with a T.

    Possibilities for a LOT of jobs.


    Smart Infrastructure Rebuilding (none / 0) (#10)
    by santarita on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 07:51:29 PM EST
    Let's rebuild the infrastructure but in a smart and green way.  Build roads but also build light rails for commuter trains.  Build roads but also make sure that there are dedicated bike lanes separate from the road.  Build up inner cities with piazzas and pedestrian only areas.  Don't just rebuild, rethink.

    The next President will have an opportunity for bold initiatives because it is clear that the tried and true has failed.  Obama needs to postpone tax reform and forget about balancing the budget for awhile.  Spend, government, spend!

    ASCE Infrastructure Report Card 2005 (none / 0) (#14)
    by FreakyBeaky on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 11:10:53 PM EST
    ASCE Infrastructure
    Report Card 2005

    Next one's up in 2009

    Bottom line: overall grade of D, investment needs of $1.6 trillion over five years.