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Sen. Proposes $1T for Infrastructure

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

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One of two independent U.S. Senators has proposed investing $1 trillion over five years in infrastructure, saying the plan would create 13 million living-wage jobs and make good on a long-overdue commitment to improving the nation's failing system.

"... I could tell you," Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, told reporters last week. "If you turn your back on infrastructure and you don't invest, do you know what happens? It gets worse. It doesn't get better all by itself."

ASCE / Courtesy of Andrew Herrmann, P.E., SECB, F.ASCE

The American Society of Civil Engineers awarded U.S. bridges an overall rating of C+ in its 2013 report. The average age of a bridge in the U.S. is more thna 40 years old, ASCE said.

Sanders' Rebuild America Act is a more-expensive version of a bill that has failed twice before. And though the pricey proposal is a long shot, Sanders is pressing it with the enthusiastic endorsement of the American Society of Civil Engineers.

ASCE's last Report Card for America's Infrastructure, for 2013, gave the U.S. system a D+ overall and called for $3.6 trillion in spending by 2020.


"Our infrastructure is collapsing, and the American people know it," Sanders wrote last week in an op-ed in The Hill.

"Every day, they drive on roads with unforgiving potholes, over bridges that are in disrepair and wait in traffic jams on congested roads. They see railroads and subways that arrive late and that are overcrowded.

"They see airports bursting at the seams. They worry that a local levee could fail in a storm."

Sanders' bill, summarized here with the full text here, would inject an additional $75 billion a year into the Highway Trust Fund, create a national infrastructure bank, and expand financing and grant programs. It would fund improvements for freight and passenger rail, airports, roads and bridges, ports, waterways and more.


ASCE says the U.S. sees more than 240,000 water main breaks each year, and much of the nation's water system is more than a century old.

The bill is co-sponsored by Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), ranking member of the Appropriations Committee.

Comparing Costs

The cost of the bill may be jaw-dropping (current annual federal transportation spending is about $50 billion), but so is the cost of continuing along the current course, proponents say.

"By taking steps to invest in our nation’s infrastructure, the U.S. can protect $3.1 trillion in GDP, $1.1 trillion in U.S. trade value and 3.5 million jobs, and a little over $3,000 a year per family," said ASCE senior managing director Casey Dinges.

"Without these investments, infrastructure—the backbone of our nation’s economy—will continue to decline and Americans will pay the price.”

Sanders says the current disrepair of U.S. infrastructure "already costs the economy close to $200 billion a year, and if we don't make these investments now, they will simply cost us more than longer we wait."


Investment in infrastructure is expensive, but so is lack of investment, according to ASCE.

The World Economic Forum’s 2015 Global Competitiveness Report ranks U.S. infrastructure as 12th best in the world, and U.S. spending on infrastructure is now 2.4 percent of GDP—its lowest level in 20 years.

Europe spends five percent on infrastructure; China, nine percent, Sanders said.

Paying for It

Sanders isn't saying where the money for his bill would come from. Some lawmakers have been discussing increasing the federal gas tax, while others are suggesting taxing corporate overseas earnings.

Sanders isn't pushing either idea. He says a plan can be worked out but concedes that it will stir "a real debate."

Senate Majority Leader Republican Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner said last month on 60 Minutes that they would support a plan to revitalize infrastructure, as long as it did not involve raising taxes on the wealthy.

Sanders told The Real News that a solution was long overdue: "When you have hedge fund managers in this country paying a lower effective tax rate than firemen or nurses, I think there are progressive ways to raise the money."

“By taking steps to invest in our nation’s infrastructure, the U.S. can protect $3.1 trillion in GDP, $1.1 trillion in U.S. trade value and 3.5 million jobs and a little over $3,000 a year per family.  Without these investments, infrastructure – the backbone of our nation’s economy – will continue to decline and Americans will pay the price.” - See more at:


Tagged categories: Airports; Bridges; Government; Government contracts; Maintenance programs; North America; Pipes; Ports; potable water; Program/Project Management; Roads/Highways; Transportation

Comment from Jim Johnson, (2/3/2015, 11:09 AM)

While these Senators are very quick to spend money you sure do not see them paying for it themselves! No, in fact they make themselves exempt from most financial laws, including obamacare and insider trading laws, and over 50% of those in Congress are behind in their taxes, but they sure as hell demand you pay yours! The article claims such spending will generate 13 million jobs. I say BULL! Yes, it will generate short term jobs, but no where near that overly exaggerated number of 13 million. One must also note that government work does not generate a thing, all it does is spend our tax money. Only private business can generate a product and add jobs that do not cost the taxpayer. By the way, did you notice a single word about figuring out how to reduce the cost of this work? Cost cutting is far more effective than additional spending. And as for raising the money for this - They have already indebted my children and grand children and great grandchildren, when does the generational theft stop? If anyone else stole from my grand kids they would go to jail! We need to repair roads, but not at the cost of generational theft! We could afford all this is we cut spending by 500 billion a year, but the fat cats on Wall St and within the beltway would not gain if that were done, so it will not be done. We have just experienced 6 years of tax and spend and what do we have? Personal income has gone down, middle income asset values have fallen and 90% of the new jobs are part time, plus health care cost has gone up dramatically! Over 100,000 new employees were added to the cost of health care, a billion was wasted on non-working web sites and on and on. This tax and spend socialist system has proven itself time and time again that it Fails miserably!!!

Comment from otis wayne Hale, (2/3/2015, 9:39 PM)

If we can afford war for profit, and spend trillions, we can certainly afford to invest in our infrastructure before we turn completely into a third world nation. Working folks will pump much of that money back into the economy where it will actually do some good. Tax those Wall Street thieves until they are bleeding from their ears.

Comment from Rodney White, (2/4/2015, 8:43 AM)

Wait- didn't the government steal $786B of taxpayer money six years ago to repair infrastructure and other "shovel-ready" jobs? And the idea that raising gas taxes would pay for these improvements....we are already paying to the government more gasoline taxes than there is profit in a gallon of refined oil, and Washington simply throws that earmarked money in with all the other stolen money and spends it on one after another failed initiative...and the "solution" is more taxes? How 'bout the electorate (we, the people) wising up and replacing all 535 spendthrifts that are stealing our money and spending it like, well, spending it like it's stolen...

Comment from Jerry Trevino, (2/4/2015, 11:13 AM)

Right on Jim! We do need infrastructure rehab big time, especially in the water, sewer arena as well as bridges. Working people can work and spend their own money. Stop wealth distribution, it is only creating a lazy less innovative culture. Less govt in our lives is better. Let's use the money we currently pay in to renew our infrastructure ..,

Comment from Andrew Piedl, (2/4/2015, 11:25 AM)

Surely there must be some program that benefits poor children that can be cut. And what about education? Clearly, it is not a requirement that people grow up with the capacity to understand science and reason or write a complete sentence.

Comment from Jerry Trevino, (2/4/2015, 7:18 PM)

The poor that grow up without handouts usually get become wealthier and more educated and more productive than those who are enslaved by the govt handout programs. People , like friends and neighbors and churches can better help the poor than a faceless non caring govt..j guess this is sort of like infrastructure rehab..people are the biggest assets this country has.

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (2/5/2015, 8:59 AM)

Rodney, if you're talking about the 2009 Stimulus, only $105B went to infrastructure. The "refined oil" profit comment typically only looks at the profit made by the final sale of the gasoline itself. It doesn't consider the profit made by the land (minerals) owner, the drilling company, the various well service companies, the pipeline company, the company that owns the well, the refinery, the pipeline companies, the gas delivery company, et cetera.

Comment from Billy Russell, (2/6/2015, 4:42 AM)

We have increased money for education, got worse not Better , we now have 3rd generation EBT cards, Public Housing Free cell phone , free ACA (if you do not want to work stay home) everything is free, SSN is the biggest Ponzi scheme in this country, Every program the federal government is involved in is BROKE and borrowing money to exist, federal workers union have it set up so that you can plain suk at your job but cant be fired, The VA is a clear example of the federal government involved in Health care , they fail at everything but lets keep paying for these federal union contracts since they do such a great job at everything , look how they made Detroit better. We spend money building countries that hate us , Democrats think everything is free , we need to get working Men and women in DC get rid of these failed union contract workers and get people that want to do the damn job right. FIX THIS NATIONS infrastructure before any foreign aid , get rid of federal union workers that do not do the job.

Comment from Rodney White, (2/6/2015, 8:30 AM)

Tom, "only $105B". You make it sound like chump change.... I'm well aware of the distribution of the stolen monies- the point is, it was stolen under the pretense of going to "the rebuilding of roads, bridges, our nation's infrastructure, and other shovel-ready jobs"- virtually none of that occurred. As far as taxing profits, consider the taxation of the profits made by the land owner, the drilling company, and so on. The federal government taxed each dollar that changed hands, every step of the way, and the point of the bill introduced was to increase that level of taxation even more..This time, "only $1T". Again, we need to rid ourselves of these 535 thieves, who have an insatiable appetite for your money and mine, and replace them with representatives who 1) understand the Constitution, 2) understand the enumerated roles of Government, and 3) that they were elected to act on the best interests of their constituents, within the bounds of 1 and 2.

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