Politicians renew call for investment in US infrastructure(2)

The Mayor of New York and governors Schwarzenegger and Rendell called on President Obama to tackle America’s $2.2trn infrastructure deficit through private investment and tax hikes. The trio also met with the president on Friday to discuss their proposal for an infrastructure bank.

Three top politicians have strengthened their push to bring infrastructure investment to the top of the US' domestic agenda by meeting with President Obama to discuss their ideas and making an appearance on NBC's Sunday morning public affairs program, Meet the Press.

Speaking on Meet the Press, the trio who founded advocacy group Building America’s Future (BAF) — New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger and Pennsylvanian governor, Ed Rendell — called for investment into roads, rail, waste and water.

Unless we can rebuild infrastructure our quality of life will suffer.

Ed Rendell

“Unless we can rebuild infrastructure we are not going to be competitive…our quality of life will suffer…things like what happened in Minnesota are going to repeat,” Rendell said, referring to a bridge collapse in 2007 which left five dead.

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Rendell said a poll taken by BAF shows American people are prepared to pay higher taxes for infrastructure improvement, while Bloomberg endorsed public private partnerships and discussed the merits of leveraging up both private equity and federal capital.

“Every billion dollars that we put into infrastructure we create 18,000 to 25,000 new jobs,” Schwarzenegger said.

He also expressed strong support for public-private partnerships as a potential solution to help the US pump more money into its ageing infrastructure.

“When you look at British Columbia or other places where they have a public-private partnership . . . everyone is happy.  Businesses are happy, the people are happy, labor is happy, the politicians are happy.  I mean, everyone is happy.  We want to do the same thing,” Schwarzenegger said.

On Friday the trio also concluded a meeting with President Obama to discuss their ideas for meeting the US' infrastructure funding shortfall. Among the ideas they discussed was BAF's proposal for a national infrastructure bank that would support domestic infrastructure projects using federal grants and loans.

“We think the infrastructure bank is terrific.  We need to do it in a little bit bigger scale,” Rendell said.

Rendell added that President Obama, who has previously expressed support for an infrastructure bank, was receptive to their ideas.

The American Society of Civil Engineers recently assigned a cumulative grade of D to the nation’s infrastructure and said that the US would need $2.2 trillion of spending over the next five years to bring the quality of its infrastructure to an acceptable level.