Infrastructure is the foundation of our economy and society. When done right, infrastructure investments make our country more competitive and facilitate social mobility by providing strong middle-class jobs and enabling access to opportunities, people, and ideas. Yet, for most people, infrastructure runs in the background, passing unnoticed until a system failure interrupts the flow of daily life. As a result, rebuilding and expanding critical facilities often fails to receive enough attention and funding.
The Center for American Progress has developed a comprehensive infrastructure plan that will put millions of people to work building the facilities needed to power our economy in the 21st century. In addition to calling for greater investments, the CAP plan includes numerous policy reforms that will help to ensure that each dollar produces the greatest possible social, environmental, and economic return on investment.
The CAP plan builds on the deeply American tradition of always looking to the future by making thoughtful investments that will not only put people to work today but also pay dividends for generations to come.
- Increase federal expenditures across infrastructure sectors above current outlays by a total of $500 billion over 10 years from fiscal year 2017 to FY 2026
- These investments will raise overall economic output by $691 billion in 2015 dollars
National infrastructure investment authority
- Establish a national infrastructure investment, or NIIA, authority to provide competitive grant funds, low-cost financing, and expedited environmental review and permitting
- The NIIA would have a capitalization of $125 billion and offer flexible terms such as deferred or back-loaded repayment and fully subordinate debt not available in the municipal bond market
Economic growth and employment
- Create 3.6 million new middle-class construction jobs
- For an average American earning 150 percent of minimum wage, or $10.88 per hour, a year of work translates to $21,750 in income. By comparison, the average heavy-construction wage is $29.60 per hour, or $59,263 annually—greater than median household income of $53,657 in 2014
Performance and accountability
- Reform federal infrastructure programs to improve transparency and accountability through expanded data collection, reporting, and performance management
- Increases the share of federal funds distributed through competitive grant programs as opposed to formulas based more on politics than need or return on investment
- The plan is fully paid for through a combination of increased user fees and tax offsets
Kevin DeGood is the Director of Infrastructure Policy at the Center for American Progress. Christian E. Weller is a Senior Fellow at the Center and a professor in the Department of Public Policy and Public Affairs at the McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. Andrew Schwartz is a Research Associate on the Economic Policy team at the Center.