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Why This Is Exactly the Time to Rebuild America's Infrastructure

Tuesday, 27 September 2011 09:17 By Robert Reich, Robert Reich's Blog | Op-Ed
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Seems like only yesterday conservative nabobs of negativity predicted America’s ballooning budget deficit would generate soaring inflation and crippling costs of additional federal borrowing.

Remember Standard & Poor’s downgrade of the United States? Recall the intense worry about investors’ confidence in government bonds — America’s IOUs?

Hmmm.

Last week ten-year yields on U.S. Treasuries closed at 1.83 percent.

In other words, they were wrong.

In fact, it’s cheaper than ever for the United States to borrow. That’s because global investors desperately want the safety of dollars. Almost everywhere else on the globe is riskier. Europe is in a debt crisis, many developing nations are gripped by fears the contagion will spread to them, Japan remains in critical condition, China’s growth is slowing.

Put this together with two other facts:

Unemployment in America remains sky-high. 14 million Americans are out of work and 25 million are looking for full-time jobs.

The nation’s infrastructure is crumbling. Our roads, bridges, water and sewer systems, subways, gas pipelines, ports, airports, and school buildings are desperately in need of repair. Deferred maintenance is taking a huge toll.

Now connect the dots. Anyone with half a brain will see this is the ideal time to borrow money from the rest of the world to put Americans to work rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure.

Problem is, too many in Washington have less than half a brain.

Robert Reich

ROBERT B. REICH, Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, was Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration. Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the last century. He has written thirteen books, including the best sellers “Aftershock" and “The Work of Nations." His latest, "Beyond Outrage," is now out in paperback. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine and chairman of Common Cause.


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