At a press event for the Building the New Economy conference, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) called for further public investment to aid economic recovery and solve the short-term and long-term crises that the country faces. And her solution includes a National Infrastructure and Development Bank that can leverage private money to provide financing for infrastructure projects across the country.
Responding to today’s news that the economy grew by 3.5% in the third quarter, DeLauro said that the end of the “Great Recession” hasn’t come to the labor markets or the take-home pay of workers. In the short term, DeLauro argues, we need more jobs to reverse 21 straight months of increasing job loss (the longest stretch since the Depression). “Short-term unemployment leads to long-term human costs… like a lost generation of American workers.”
The twin problems of job loss and the crisis in state budgets can be reversed with public investment, said DeLauro, which traditionally has brought about prosperity. “The chapters of the success story of this country has been written in granite, iron, steel and … fiber optics.” DeLauro touted the bill she introduced with Reps. Keith Ellison, Steve Israel and Anthony Weiner, called the National Infrastructure and Development Bank Act. So much investment dollars are going to finance infrastructure projects abroad. A national infrastructure bank would bring that investment home. Under the direction of the Treasury Department, the development bank would direct private dollars toward building roads and bridges and all sorts of projects. This would spur short-term job creation and leave a lasting legacy of tangible projects that can tie growth to manufacturing. The development bank has the support of multiple organizations, almost all 50 states, and was budgeted both in the House budget and the President’s budget.
This infrastructure and development bank could spur technological development and R&D, a point made insistently by speakers at the conference. Leo Gerard, the head of the United Steelworkers union, noted that we have a current trade deficit on the types of high-tech products that we invented in America. “There’s 200 tons of steel in the average-sized wind turbine. 400 tons if you put it in water. There are 4 million jobs just waiting to be had just for retrofitting buildings… If we don’t have a strategy to put America back on being dominant in manufacturing, we’re going to continue to lose the R&D capacity, market share, and we will decline.”
John Surma, the CEO of US Steel, agreed with the development bank concept as a means to get his people back to work. “Rep. DeLauro speaks eloquently about a wonderful idea I’ve seen work in Serbia,” he said.
DeLauro did support the idea of a second stimulus, though she didn’t care about the term. “I don’t care what we call the next round of public investment, but it’s necessary.
Just because we had growth in the last quarter, all is not right with the world.” She called for more help for the states facing budget crises, and substantially more public investment.
…You can hear a live audio stream of the entire Building the New Economy conference here.