Among the legion of problems facing the U.S., two stand out: Unemployment remains appallingly high, and the public works undergirding our economy are in alarmingly bad shape. Creating a national infrastructure bank presents a harmonized solution to these two problems that should be feasible even in austere times.
Airports and transportation networks, levees and dams, water and energy systems are deteriorating. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) estimates that 25 percent of our bridges are deficient, 7 billion gallons of clean water are wasted each day because of leaking pipes, and a third of our major roads are in poor or mediocre condition. The costs of all this to U.S. businesses -- in delays, accidents, lost productivity, red tape -- are enormous.
Yet improving such facilities adequately, the ASCE estimates, would require a five-year investment of $2.2 trillion. If you've been within shouting distance of Washington lately, you know that finding anything near such a sum is an impossibility. So a revitalization program that doesn't rely entirely on federal munificence is crucial.
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