Tom McNamara, Blueprint America
In order to have an impact on the American Recovery and Reinvestment bill, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) released its 2009 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure.
Still, as the bill goes through Congress, little has been done to ensure that proper oversight will be applied to the funds devoted to spending – for example, that the right infrastructure projects will be funded. The economic stimulus package seems to cut more in taxes than spend on infrastructure repair.
At the same time, the Senate Finance Committee approved its $522 billion portion of the bill, expanding the economic stimulus package almost $70 billion. The Senate Appropriations Committee also approved its portion – $365.6 billion in spending. The total amount of the stimulus package is now at $887 billion and, with the passage by the two committee panels, the full Senate can now begin debate on the bill, which Democrats want to pass sometime next week.
The nearly $70 billion increase came from a fix to insulate middle-class taxpayers from the Alternative Minimum Tax for a year.
Roughly, the stimulus includes $550 billion in spending and about $275 billion in tax cuts. Around $90 billion will go to building and repairing highways, bridges, mass transit systems and other infrastructure projects. The hope is that this investment in the physical infrastructure of the country will slow the job loss rate throughout America.
Still, it is unclear who will be employed, how long the employment will last or if America’s infrastructure will get the kind of repair it actually needs.
According to the ASCE, decades of underfunding and inattention have “endangered our nation’s infrastructure.” As a result, the group concluded that $2.2 trillion is needed in repairs and upgrades over the next five years in order to maintain “adequate conditions.”