Washington, D.C. — When President Barack Obama put forward his fiscal year 2014 budget plan, he included a historic pairing of issues that deserve careful attention: infrastructure and resilience. Two of the lynchpin proposals unveiled in the president’s larger budget blueprint were a major new program for infrastructure reconstruction and a plan for improving the resilience of American communities in a rapidly changing global climate. A new report released today by the Center for American Progress explores how to transform these important building blocks into a comprehensive national strategy for modernizing and reinvesting in the nation’s strategic infrastructure.
As the Obama administration is getting to work defending the principles within the president’s proposals, another noteworthy event took place last week in Washington, D.C.: Former President Bill Clinton and a group of the nation’s leading mayors met with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the AFL-CIO, and other private-sector leaders to discuss in detail how local governments are already moving forward on this challenge, and find new ways to drive private-sector investment into the publicly beneficial infrastructure underpinning our economy.
According to Bracken Hendricks, Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress:
The Center for American Progress has been honored to work with the Clinton Global Initiative and the U.S. Conference of Mayors to help launch their new Infrastructure Financing for Cities Task Force, and we salute the leadership and vision of this effort. We are at a moment of unprecedented community need for reinvestment to rebuild local infrastructure for strong, resilient, and globally competitive metropolitan regions. Yet at the same moment we face an ever-tightening fiscal environment for the federal supports that have long-funded these investments. This is a historic opportunity to retool the U.S. economy to meet the challenges we know await us in a changing global economy, but we must dig deep, we must get smart, and we must work together across federal and local government and the private sector to do things differently.
According to Charlotte, North Carolina, Mayor Anthony Foxx:
The health of our national economy is heavily dependent on the health of our cities. American cities need well-maintained and efficient water and sewer systems, roads, bridges, transit, and airports, among other things. When we prioritize these needs, we create jobs in the short term and facilitate longer-term growth by improving the flow of goods and people and enhancing quality of life. By using our cities as laboratories, we are only scratching the surface of the possibilities to renew infrastructure without relying exclusively on taxpayers. With enormous amounts of private capital on the sidelines, it is a good time to think outside the lines and find ways to put these resources to use to rebuild local infrastructure through public-private partnerships.
Any such national strategy must accomplish three key tasks:
- Improving infrastructure planning and making high-quality information about climate change and resiliency more usable for decision makers
- Increasing the flow of capital resources from both the public and private sectors into those infrastructure projects that are truly needed for national security and economic growth
- Meeting implementation challenges by effectively linking federal, state, local, and private efforts so as to ensure that projects are built effectively and efficiently on the ground in communities nationwide
President Obama’s second-term agenda takes an important leap in directly linking a renewed push for investment in job-creating domestic infrastructure with a legacy focus on ensuring that our next generation of infrastructure is designed with an eye toward meeting a new wave of threats and challenges to America’s economic resilience. This is a moment for strong leadership, meaningful investment, and mobilization of the nation through a coordinated national strategy.
Read the full issue brief: “Infrastructure and Resilience: Forging a National Strategy for Reconstruction and Growth” by Bracken Hendricks, Cathleen Kelly, and Adam James
To speak with an expert on this topic, contact Anne Shoup at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202.481.7146.