Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
January 28th, 2009
America falling down: American Society of Civil Engineers 2009 Report Card

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.”

[Click here to read the full report card]

  • Dick Canfield

    The GOP argument for cutting taxes is of course ideological wishful thinking that it will create jobs. It is “the build it and they will come” reasoning. Just because it is a virtuous slogan dosen’f make it true. Because companies don’t grow without finding a demand. The reverse of demand, diminished demand, causes layoffs as is happening now. The head of J P Morgan claimed on CNBC Friday that small businesses are not borrowing right now. Why? No demand, and growth has stopped. Paul Krugman points out that spending big on anything is more effective and if the result is of lasting consequence so much the better. People back to work building anything is what we need to restart the economy. Nothing else the government can do will be as effective and the cry to do it quickly is more than slogan. Doing it quickly is an imperative. Get off the stump and get to work Washington!

Produced by THIRTEEN   ©2014 WNET.ORG Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.