Hillary Clinton talks about many important issues on the campaign trail including reforming the criminal justice system, immigration reform, providing affordable college education, raising the minimum wage, providing equal pay for women, protecting Social Security and Medicare and a whole host of foreign policy initiatives. All of these are worthy goals and she ought to push hard for their approval from the fractured Congress she may be facing no matter how well the Democrats do in the 2016 elections.
But what might be her one "Big Idea" that could secure bi-partisan support and make a major difference for our country now and in the future? For Barack Obama it was the Affordable Care Act which despite its limitations has provided health insurance for more than 16 million people who did not have it before. For Dwight Eisenhower it was massive interstate highways that are now more than 60 years old. For Hillary Clinton it could be her investment in America's whole infrastructure, "Building Tomorrow's Future Today".
Most of this article is taken from her plan which you can read on her website but which is rarely discussed in the media or on campaign stops. It is admittedly not a politically sexy issue but it could be the one issue that would win bi-partisan support and be her legacy accomplishment.
Building Tomorrow's Infrastructure Today
-It would increase federal infrastructure funding by $275 billion over five years.
-$250 billion would be direct public investment.
-$25 billion would go to a national infrastructure bank which would leverage the money to make an additional $250 billion in direct loans, loan guarantees and other forms of credit enhancement.
- The bank would also administer part of a renewed and expanded version of President Obama's Build American Bonds program.
America's Infrastructure Needs
-Roads and bridges: more than half of our highways are 45 years or older and almost one in four bridges are in need of repair. The average motorist spends almost $1,000 a year in extra fuel and countless hours because of heavy traffic and another $500 in repairs due to "potholes". Consumers also pay more for food and other items due to higher shipping costs. This bill is long past due. The longer we delay the bigger and more difficult it gets. Failure to spend $1 in road repair now typically results in costs of $7 five years later. There are about 33,000 traffic fatalities each year and one third involve poor road conditions. Road repair saves money and more important, lives. REPAIR, REPAIR, REPAIR!
-Public transportation: ridership is growing each year and so are crowding and delays due to insufficient trains and buses and traffic jams at major hubs. INVEST, INVEST, INVEST!
-Freight investment: upgrades in the 25 most costly freight bottlenecks, starting with Chicago.
-Airports: the newest US airport is 20 years old and our best rated airport is ranked 30th in the world. This Clinton initiative will create several world class air hubs that also connect people to mass transit. It would also bring our air traffic control system into the 21st century.
-Internet access: President Obama has made this a priority. This initiative will commit to providing 100 percent of American households with affordable first class broadband access and connect public schools and libraries to high-speed broadband.
-Dams and levees: we have more than 84,000 dams and 1000,000 levees that protect us from floods, facilitate the movement of goods and generate electricity. This plan would provide funds to inspect and repair them.
The benefits to this investment are many, including between 2 and 3 million living wage jobs, cleaner water and air, an opportunity for advanced internet learning, up to date information for farmers and businesses, greater safety and efficiency on our roads and in the air AND borrowing at a time of low interest rates. Bernie Sanders has proposed a plan to invest a trillion dollars over five years and the American Society of Engineers estimate that it will cost 3.6 trillion by 2020 to catch up with infrastructure needs. Clinton's plan will not do the whole job but it could be a viable compromise and first step on a long road to replenishing our vital infrastructure. She could call it REINVESTING IN AMERICA.
Secretary Clinton says she wants to work across the aisle with Republicans. This could be the one to break the political log jam in the Congress and bring our country together on something we all agree needs to be done.
OH! There is one thorny issue to be resolved. Secretary Clinton says she will pay for all this by "REFORMING BUSINESS TAXES". Will she look to the big businesses that will benefit from this investment as well as bankers to pay more? Will they be willing to pay their fair share to invest in the country that has given them so much?