Solving America's Infrastructure Crisis

Most Americans are now well aware that we have an infrastructure crisis that goes beyond long commute times. We all nod in agreement when some of our airports are likened to those of Third World countries.

Our bridges do collapse and our levies do break.

More quietly advanced manufacturing firms do forego our communities because power and water are simply too expensive and roads to market designed for a bygone era.

We could all be forgiven for thinking that there is no fix. After all, the government could not find any shovel-ready projects to give money to just a few years ago. Most politicians will bemoan the state of our infrastructure, but tell us that their hands are tied by tight public finances. For projects that do get done, most of us have a healthy skepticism about the whole thing, suspicious that projects may be chosen more by political calculation than project merit.

All that said, in reality, we do have large numbers of projects throughout the country designed to modernize our infrastructure ready to go, but for lack of financing. They may not be bridges or roads linking up states, but they are things like water projects and internet backbones which can make communities healthier and more competitive. We also have enormous amounts of money sitting in our pension funds wanting to invest in the future for the benefit of their retirees by investing in our country's future. Also, it turns out that while states simply do not have money to pay for essential infrastructure, they do have their highest credit ratings in years, which means that money if appropriately used, can go farther.

So all these projects, all this money, all these needs. We can help bridge this gap with financial ingenuity and a greater appreciation of the complex politics that tie things up. Today, I am launching an initiative along with colleagues to do just this -- nothing grandiose, one project at a time.