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It’s Time to Rebuild America—Literally

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It’s Time to Rebuild America—Literally

It’s campaign season with a vengeance, and candidates are discussing their plans for improving America. 

What many voters should realize, however, is that America needs more than rebuilding in mere metaphor.

 

America’s Roads are in Terrible Shape

In its last report card, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave America’s roads a D. 

It estimated that wasted time and fuel from over-congestion were costing the United States’ Economy $101 billion per year.

The actual physical state of some roads are terrible too, as any casual observer can tell you. 

They are full of bumps and potholes that can cause damage to cars and loss of driver control. 

Many have dangerously-faded markings that open motorists up to misunderstandings and accidents.

 

America’s Bridges are also in Terrible Shape

The ASCE gave bridges a slightly better grade— a C+. 

It also estimated that 1 in 9 of U.S. bridges are structurally deficient. 

Structurally deficient bridges pose serious safety issues as a bridge collapse is highly likely to lead to fatalities.

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A Selection of Other Infrastructure Elements as Graded by the ASCE:

  • Drinking Water: D
  • Aviation: D
  • Rail:  C+
  • Transit:  D
  • Energy:  D+

 

Our infrastructure is in shambles right now.

Bridges are falling apart, airports are inefficient, public transit barely exists in small towns, and even clean drinking water is no longer a guarantee.  School teachers use their income to buy needed supplies for students.

 For an arguably rich, First-World nation, we’re flunking in a lot of ways right now.

 

So Why Aren’t We Fixing It?

There is no easy answer, but it mostly comes back to money. 

Both maintenance and new projects are getting more expensive—so much so that current funding can’t keep up. 

Although the government was spending 44 percent more on infrastructure in 2014 than in 2003, that money lost purchasing power—9 percent worth—over that same stretch of time.

American roadway projects lack funding due to the ailing Highway Trust Fund. 

For two decades, Congress has refused to raise the gasoline tax which funds it. 

In fact, certain states have taken matters into their hands and raised gas taxes themselves to pay for road improvements.

 

Speaking of Which, States Can Either Help or Hinder the Process of Maintenance and Repair

As stated above, some states are realizing that the Federal Government is not going fix their roads, so they are beginning to do it themselves. 

Other states, however, divert funds intended for roads to other places in order to balance their overall budget.

Clearly, the states alone cannot handle the current shortfall in and of themselves.

 

The Three Big Presidential Candidates All Have Plans for Infrastructure

Their solutions just differ in scope and specificity. 

All of them endorse pouring money into America’s wounded infrastructure. 

They even seem to have the same basic concepts in mind, though their proposed executions differ.

 

Bernie Sanders Wants to Bolster the System with $1 trillion in Funding

He holds that this would bring the United States at least 13 million new project-related jobs that absolutely could not be outsourced. 

Inasmuch as it would both bring improvements to the infrastructure and jobs to the unemployed, his plan very much resembles FDR’s New Deal.

He claims to have already worked out enough ways to cut corporate tax dodging to fund at least half of this plan.

 

Hilary Clinton, on the Other Hand, Promises $275 Billion in Funds

While her funding proposal would stretch out over a five-year period, Hillary Clinton too wants to increase spending on infrastructure, paying for it with business tax reform. 

Again, the plan resembles the New Deal in that it would create a number of jobs which would theoretically be middle-class. 

However, she would also create a national infrastructure bank with $25 billion in funds to support infrastructure investment.

The bank would work with the private sector and renew and expand the Build America Bonds program.

 

Donald Trump is Confident he’s the Guy for the Job.

Trump realizes America’s infrastructure is failing and is confident he can fix it.

He says, “If we do what we have to do correctly, we can create the biggest economic boom in this country since the New Deal when our vast infrastructure was first put into place.”

He has not disclosed a specific plan, but has said the project will be a trillion dollar rebuilding plan which will create 13 million jobs. 

 

The Situation is Far from Hopeless, But America Does Have Her Work Cut Out for Her

Like any bad report card, the ASCE’s ratings should be looked at as a challenge to work on problem areas and do better. 

Yes, the infrastructure is in a bad place right now. 

America as a nation has to work on fixing it.

All three presidential candidates have ideas and solutions in mind. 

Any one of their solutions—while bearing a price tag—would have the silver lining of creating tons of jobs for American workers. 

And they are far from the only ones thinking about the problem.

 

Conclusion

As long as we continue to look for solutions, the money sink that U.S. infrastructure has become does not have to remain expensive and broken. 

We can, in fact, rebuild America. 

And I do mean that literally.

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