To date, Congress has approved three aid packages, including the most recent $2 trillion package, trying to offset the impact of COVID-19 on the U.S. economy. While House and Senate leaders appear to have different opinions on the need for a fourth package, numerous organizations say infrastructure investment is another option to jumpstart the economy while addressing significant transportation needs.
President Trump signaled his approval for an infrastructure package after Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi raised the issue during an appearance on MSNBC’s ‘Morning Joe’ program earlier today. He weighed in on Twitter, noting “With interest rates for the United States being at zero, this is the time to do our decades long awaited infrastructure bill. It should be very big and bold, $2 trillion, and be focused solely on jobs and rebuilding the once great infrastructure of our country! Phase 4.”
While the legislative and executive branches may not yet be in agreement about infrastructure spending as part of a fourth stimulus package, numerous groups say this typically bipartisan issue would benefit the economy.
Transportation Construction Coalition
The Transportation Construction Coalition spelled out its argument for infrastructure spending in a letter to Congress’ majority and minority leaders in House and Senate.
“While there are diverse and well-intended views on how federal policy can stabilize and resuscitate the U.S. economy during times of crisis, there are few initiatives that can match the combination of immediate and long-term benefits of increased infrastructure,” the TCC writes. “The Senate Environment & Public Works Committee last July demonstrated infrastructure legislation focused on providing tangible outcomes can also garner overwhelming bipartisan support. The Committee’s unanimous approval of a five-year reauthorization of the federal highway program offers a proactive and meaningful path forward for Congress to deliver an urgently needed economic boost.”
The World Economic Forum
The National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association recently shared a post from the World Economic Forum titled: Why infrastructure is the only way to fight a COVID-19 recession in the US.
“When monetary policy isn’t enough, a country must turn towards fiscal policy,” WEC writes. “Right now, reviving the lagging US infrastructure sector may be the best approach: infrastructure creates economic growth, 5G cellular infrastructure will allow for faster data rates, a better electric grid allows us to drive electric cars, and new roads reduce congestion and commute times.”
The report notes that the US is 30 years behind on its infrastructure. Its three-point solution includes consolidating government authority to execute infrastructure projects, prioritizing projects using data-driven decision-making process, and harnessing innovation and the Fourth Industrial Revolution to improve construction technology.
The Conference Board
The Committee for Economic Development of The Conference Board has a similar message. In a recent Solutions Brief, it notes that such an option is a pressing 2020 issue to address economic slowdowns.
“As we face this crisis, we need world-leading infrastructure to facilitate the global competitiveness of U.S. businesses and create opportunities for all Americans to prosper,” says CED President Lori Esposito Murray. “A bold commitment to infrastructure investment now will super-charge the U.S. economy and help us pull ourselves out of this downturn.”