Advisor and Former Chief Executive Officer, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
May 13, 2019
During the postwar economic boom, President Eisenhower built out the roads, waterways, and bridges that became the arteries of American commerce. His ambitious infrastructure plan, including the Interstate Highway System that bears his name, helped lay the foundation for the biggest economic expansion of the last 100 years.
President Eisenhower made history by building an infrastructure system unrivaled by any in the world. President Trump can make it again by updating that system for the modern era.
The need for Congress and the administration to come together on a bipartisan plan to revitalize the physical platform of our economy is more urgent today than ever before. That’s because our nation’s infrastructure, although once the envy of the world, is now severely outdated. Our highways were developed in the 1960s, and our power lines are fast approaching the end of their life spans. Meanwhile, our inland waterways are managed with 100-year-old locks and dams. We’re essentially running a 21st century economy on a 20th century operating system – and Americans everywhere are paying the price.
Consider the facts: The average driver forks out $533 in vehicle repairs each year as a consequence of our dilapidated roads. And our economy loses $9 billion annually from flight delays, a result of our aging airports and air traffic control systems. Unless we act now to address this problem, it could cost businesses $7 trillion and destroy 2.5 million jobs by the year 2025.
The good news? America’s voters recognize the need for urgency. Nearly 80% say that it is extremely important that the government invest more in infrastructure. Public support is there – the only thing missing is the political willpower. That’s why the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is working closely with Congress and the administration to rally support for a commonsense plan to fix America’s infrastructure.
What we are witnessing is a groundswell of bipartisan support on this issue. Take, for example, the Chamber’s partnership with the AFL-CIO. In March, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and I joined forces to press our leaders for action on infrastructure during a House Ways and Means Committee hearing – just one of many times we have testified together on Capitol Hill. If business and labor can find common ground on this issue, then Republicans and Democrats should be able to do the same.
No doubt the cost of repairing our infrastructure will be great – but far greater is the cost of inaction. That’s why we call on President Trump and members of Congress to work together to restore our nation’s infrastructure to help power the next century of economic growth.