Politics

Behind Hillary Clinton’s $250 Billion Infrastructure Plan

CREDIT: AP Photo/Steven Senne

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, right, greets people in a crowd before a rally at Faneuil Hall, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2015, in Boston. Clinton and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh attended the event held to launch "Hard Hats for Hillary," a coalition to organize working families in construction, building, transportation, and other labor industries to support Clinton's agenda.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton announced on Monday her plan to spend $250 billion over five years to improve the nation’s infrastructure, a plan that could create 3.25 million jobs, according to government projections.

The plan — which includes proposals to improve roads and bridges, transit systems, energy systems, and electric grids — is the first phase of Clinton’s month-long focus on jobs. In addition to a $250 billion federal investment, her plan calls for establishing a $25 billion national infrastructure bank to encourage private investments. The campaign said the proposals will be paid for through business tax reforms.

“Investing in infrastructure makes our economy more productive and competitive across the board,” she said when previewing the plan in Boston on Sunday. “It cuts costs for families and businesses. It spurs more private investment. It boosts wages up and down the supply chain and throughout the economy.”

The White House Council of Economic Advisers has estimated that every $1 billion in infrastructure investment creates 13,000 jobs. And a report by Standard & Poors last year found that investing $1.3 billion in infrastructure in 2015 would add at least 29,000 jobs and $2 billion to economic growth while reducing the deficit by $200 million.

The American Society of Civil Engineers gives the U.S. a D+ grade on our roads, bridges, waterways, electrical grids, and other infrastructure, and says the country needs to spend an additional $1.6 trillion by 2020 to get it all up to par. Clinton’s plan would target much of the country’s struggling industries with direct investments.

“I don’t have to tell you what a sorry state we’re in,” she said in Boston. “Our roads and bridges are potholed and crumbling. Families endure blackouts because our electric grid fails in extreme weather. Beneath our cities, our pipeline infrastructure — our water, our sewer, you name it — is up to a century or more old. Our airports are a mess. Our ports need improvement. Our rail systems do as well.”

Her plan outlines a number of specific proposals, including a call for connecting all U.S. households to high-speed internet by 2020. She also has called for improving the nation’s airports and aviation technology — the United States invented air travel, she said, but has since lagged behind and has not invested in our outdated airports and air traffic control system.

The plan will also tackle more straight-forward infrastructure like roads, ports, and bridges. An analysis of government data by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association found last year that the United States has more than 63,000 bridges that are structurally deficient and in need of significant repairs, and a number of bridges have collapsed in recent years.

In 2013, government spending on infrastructure, scientific research, education, and other long-term priorities fell to the lowest level seen since before World War II. Republicans in Congress have repeatedly blocked President Obama’s attempts to invest in the nation’s crumbling infrastructure. In March, Senate Republicans defeated a Democratic amendment to the proposed 2016 budget which was offered by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and called for $478 billion in new spending over six years without increasing the deficit.

infrastructure

CREDIT: Financial Times

While Congress has failed to take action, Obama announced tax measures and other actions in January to encourage a flow of private investment into fixing the nation’s infrastructure with federal investments.

Sanders, also a Democratic presidential candidate, has proposed a $1 trillion infrastructure investment plan. “A $1 trillion investment would put 13 million people to work repairing the backlog of infrastructure projects all across this country,” he said in January when announcing the Rebuild America Act.