August 2011: Government Affairs

Words: Dan Kamys Government Affairs Infrastructure Investment Key for Job Creation

With just 18,000 jobs having been created nationwide in June, and unemployment having increased to 9.2 percent, it now is clearer than ever that we must take immediate action to create jobs. One of the fastest ways to get people back to work is to invest in America’s ailing infrastructure.

The case for providing robust funding for infrastructure is unassailable. In fact, given our needs – the American Society of Civil Engineers recently gave America’s infrastructure a “D” grade – and the fact that every $1 billion of infrastructure investment supports 35,000 jobs, it is hard to understand Washington’s failure to act. In my district and across the country, people deal every day with the consequences of the lack of investment in our built environment. Aging, inefficient, and inadequate schools and public buildings, endless traffic congestion, and costly flooding are among the signs of our short-sightedness.

Moreover, as bad as the employment picture is nationwide, it is even worse in the construction industry, where the unemployment rate is 16 percent. I strongly believe we must come together to reach a bipartisan agreement to reduce the deficit. But I also know that as we take steps to control spending, we must preserve investments that are critical for the middle class and economic growth. If we fail to modernize our infrastructure at a time when countries such as China are taking dramatic steps to improve their economic efficiency, we will only fall further behind.

When we talk about investing in infrastructure, we have to remember that we are really talking about investing in the American people. We cannot ignore the very buildings in which our future leaders are educated, or that house our military personnel or our veterans. Nor should we use the financial exigencies of the present as an excuse to saddle future taxpayers with unnecessary costs. As we modernize our infrastructure, we must assure that we focus on sustainability, operational efficiency, and durability. The fact is that a project that is not built to last turns what should be an inheritance for our children into a liability.

As part of our efforts to increase support for infrastructure, I believe we must work to tap additional sources of revenue. Expanding private sector investment is critical, which is why I’ve proposed creating a national infrastructure bank to increase the pool of funding available for worthy projects.

My commitment to strengthening the pillars on which our prosperity rests – from our schools to our roads to our water and sewer systems – is part of my commitment to putting the middle class first. Main Street, not Wall Street, is what makes America great. And it’s Main Street that we need to invest in.

It is my hope that, as we continue to work to reduce the deficit, my colleagues will join me in supporting a comprehensive package of infrastructure investments that will jumpstart our economy, put people back to work, and help the private sector to create jobs for many years to come.
To advance the interests of the Third District, Congressman Lipinski is a member of two House Committees: Transportation and Infrastructure and Science and Technology.
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