News / USA

Panel Considers Bank to Promote Investment in US Infrastructure

Multimedia

A U.S. Senate panel is looking at ways to help spur investment in roads, bridges and other costly public projects.  The US currently spends less on infrastructure projects than most developed countries.  One idea that appears to be gaining traction is the president's proposal for the creation of a national infrastructure bank.  

On expensive infrastructure projects, the US spends less than most countries:  only about two percent of Gross Domestic Product, compared to five percent for Europe and nine percent for China.

Senator John Kerry warns without additional investment, the US will lose its competitive edge.

"Rising economic powers around the world - our competitors China, India, Brazil, Mexico, other countries - are all investing in their future," said John Kerry. "And they're all investing in their future much more significantly than the United States.  The truth is, we are moving at our current rate towards a secondary competitive status, because of our inattention to the infrastructure of our country."

One of the options before the Senate Banking Committee is a $50 billion fund to create a bank that would pool private and public resources to upgrade the nation's aging roads, railways and airports.

Treasury Department chief economist Alan Krueger says that investment makes good economic sense.

"Infrastructure investment will provide opportunities for workers who were disproportionately affected by the recession," said Alan Krueger. "Due to the collapse of the real estate market the contraction of employment in the construction industry has been especially acute."

One in five of the eight million jobs lost during the recession was in construction, which has an unemployment rate nearly twice as high as the national average.  

While most lawmakers on the panel were receptive, Montana Senator Jon Tester expressed concerns that smaller communities would not be able to compete.

"How does Montana get a fair shot at any sort of investment when quite honestly we don't have a population base that's the size of a place like Pittsburgh, much less a bigger city or a bigger state?" asked Jon Tester.

Still, others, like senior Republican Senator Richard Shelby, fear the proposal would create another Government Sponsored Enterprise (GSE) that puts public funds at risk.

"I fear that the bank will simply be a new GSE or something like it and we will face another Fannie [Mae] and Freddie [Mac] type entity that will cost taxpayers money down the road," said Richard Shelby.

But Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell argues that partnering with the private sector helps reduce the risk.

"In fact, the bank, because it will leverage private sector investments in most cases, I think you will see a higher scrutiny on projects because the private sector is interested in the rate of return, and for the rate of return to be successful, the project has to be successful, so you'll not only have some level of government oversight, but you'll have the investor oversight as well," said Ed Rendell.

The National Infrastructure Bank, also called I-bank, would use private, state and local capital to fund infrastructure projects without the normal red-tape from Congress.   

The Congressional Budget Office, which reviews the fiscal implications of US legislation says infrastructure spending is one of the most effective policy options for reducing the nation's high unemployment rate.

You May Like

Video Video Claims to Show Shi'ite Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

While not yet independently confirmed, brutal killing already has gotten attention of Islamic State followers on social media More

After Six Years, Little Change for Niger Delta's Former Militants

Nigerians who laid down arms in exchange for government amnesty subsidies fear program may end with upcoming presidential elections More

Vietnam Pushes for More Educated Drivers to Curb Road Deaths

Transportation officials hope that making a greater effort to get drivers to learn the rules of the road will reduce fatal crashes More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planeti
X
George Putic
March 04, 2015 8:51 PM
NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960's Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7th to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960’s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More