In his State of the Union address, President Obama committed to help rebuild America – to renew the physical and operational structure that allows our country to function. To reach this goal, the President aims to improve roads, bridges, trains, buildings, high-speech Internet access, and crucial types of infrastructure that enable growth. These investments will create jobs in the short term and prime our country for future growth in the long run.
Throughout history, America’s infrastructure has always been our foundation of growth. As we connected the country through a transcontinental railroad, new cities and communities emerged – and with them, businesses sprouted with the cheap and efficient transport of goods and services. FDR’s Rural Electrification Administration gave power to millions across the country, ushering in a new standard of living. The Internet launched an economic revolution and gave the power of information to anyone with access – and the sky-high potential it affords.
The promise of similar transformation still rings true today.
Earlier this week, Vice President Joe Biden and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood traveled to Philadelphia to announce a plan to connect 80 percent of households with high-speed rail over the next 25 years. To meet that goal, the administration dedicated $53 billion over six years to building a high-speech and intercity passenger rail network across the country.
A long time Amtrak rider and rail advocate, Vice President Biden said:
I understand the need to invest in a modern rail system that will help connect communities, reduce congestion and create quality, skilled manufacturing jobs that cannot be outsourced. This plan will help us to do that, while also increasing access to convenient high speed rail for more Americans.
The modernization of freight railroads and subway systems create construction jobs for local workers and open industry gateways between cities and towns throughout America. These improvements in freight allow ranchers and farmers to ship livestock and produce to new markets. Upgrades to the subway system like the one in New York City mean faster commutes to work and improved productivity and quality of life. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner writes:
More subway capacity means less congested streets, less time spent stuck in traffic, faster deliveries of goods to city stores, and less smog in the air. However, the decision to increase capacity in New York also means that the far-away Kawasaki plant in Lincoln, Nebraska that manufactures the subway cars will increase production, putting Nebraskans to work.
And yesterday in Marquette, Michigan, President Obama announced a National Wireless Initiative to extend high-speed Internet access to 98 percent of Americans over the next five years. This commitment will give businesses and entrepreneurs access to cutting edge information by making better use of government broadband spectrum, investing in more research and development in wireless technologies and applications, and working with private-companies to meet these goals. Plus, it will devote nearly $10 billion of spectrum revenue to reducing the budget deficit.
As President Obama said:
[W]e have always believed that we have a responsibility to guarantee all our people every tool necessary for them to meet their full potential. And in a 21st century economy, that has never been more important. Every American deserves access to the world’s information. Every American deserves access to the global economy. We have promised this for fifteen years. It is time we delivered on that promise.
President Obama’s commitment to infrastructure investment is part of his vision to “out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world.” These initiatives will help to fulfill the promise of that vision.