Thursday, November 13, 2008

Rohatyn Champions National Infrastructure Bank

Felix Rohatyn continues to advocate for the establishment of a federal infrastructure bank, this time in an op-ed piece in Forbes. He calls for public investment-led stimulus package, including a three-pronged strategy to renovate infrastructure, promote clean energy, and promote public health.

Rohatyn criticizes the turf-based federal appropriations process, which leads to political balkanization, and fragmentation of investment priorities:

The shortcomings of our transportation and other systems are well-documented. We have inherited a system of trust funds and dedicated programs that too easily fall prey to earmarks, waste and bureaucratic turf. The wrong projects are funded, while bridges collapse and levees break.
Among Rohatyn's proposals is a school construction and renovation program:
Chancellor Klein of the New York City system estimates that it will take $1.7 billion to bring his city's school buildings up to passable conditions--these needs are paralleled across the nation.
According to some reports, President-elect Obama may be hard pressed to come up with more dollars for education in the midst of an economic crisis. But no one can justify benign neglect of school buildings that are crumbling and falling apart.
...[For] too long, we have postponed these investments in the name of tax reduction, war, anti-statist ideology and now crisis. We must now make clear that our common future comes first.
Amen to that!

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