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Last month, the U.S. Chamber kicked off what promises to be a whirlwhind year in Washington by laying out a four-point plan for modernizing America’s infrastructure.
We made recommendations for funding much-needed fixes to roads and bridges; for financing upgrades and drawing more investment in airports, waterways, and other critical infrastructure; for streamlining a permitting process that keeps projects from being completed on time; and for expanding the American workforce to help bring those projects – and more – across the finish line.
Our aim was to bring new energy and urgency to a conversation about infrastructure that is long overdue, not to mention critical for U.S. businesses and the American economy. Two weeks removed from the rollout, it’s safe to say that conversation has left the station, and it looks like it’s on the right track.
Here’s a sampling of what they’re saying about the Chamber’s ideas for modernizing America’s infrastructure.
America’s top-spending lobbying group is calling on lawmakers and the Trump administration to improve the sorry state of the country’s infrastructural health by raising the federal gas tax, embracing public-private partnerships and – perhaps most importantly – getting out of their own way.
The U.S. business lobby [hosted] a summit with business, policy and labor leaders to discuss infrastructure investment and to ‘jump-start’ action in Washington in 2018 as President Donald Trump prepares to roll out principles for a promised $1 trillion infrastructure initiative...
The Chamber of Commerce proposed a federal gasoline tax increase this month that it estimates would raise nearly $400 billion over a decade, as part of a broader infrastructure package that includes private funding, worker training and streamlined permitting.
Jerry Seib, The Wall Street Journal:
Amid the seemingly constant stream of controversies and explosions around Washington, D.C., these days, a very important story got lost in the shuffle in the last couple of weeks. It was simply this: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce endorsed a 25 cent per gallon increase in the gas tax.... By stepping in now, the Chamber is saying, ‘We really do want this to happen, and we want this to be a bipartisan plan.’
Paul P. Skoutelas, President and CEO, American Public Transportation Association:
APTA supports increasing the federal gas tax to provide for sustained and dedicated revenues. Increased investment in public transportation through an infrastructure initiative will be a boon for the U.S. economy. Americans across the country deserve a public transit and highway network that is safe, reliable, and meets the demands of a 21st century economy.
The proposal by the nation’s largest business lobby … is part of a series of principles it will offer in a bid to help shape the debate over upgrading the nation’s roads, bridges, airports and other critical infrastructure.
The Washington Post editorial board:
Raising the federal gas tax to help pay for highways and restrain federal deficits is a good idea whose time never seems to come. … This is not a brand-new cause for the Chamber, which has backed such proposals in the past. Yet the case the organization articulates is particularly strong; if reasoning were the only consideration, as opposed to Congress’s reflexive terror at raising taxes, the plan would be adopted by a voice vote in both the House and Senate and speedily signed by the president.
Christopher Beddor, Reuters Breakingviews:
It seems a contrary proposal coming from a group whose members just secured huge cuts in tax rates on corporate profit. But it makes sense.… It’s an obvious piggy bank.
Steve Caldiera, President and CEO, Consumer Specialty Products Association:
The decline of our nation’s railways, highways, airports, and ports threatens the means by which raw materials enter and finished goods leave the specialty product manufacturing facilities that employ nearly 200,000 American workers. A reliable infrastructure system is the linchpin that allows American manufacturing to succeed, and Congress and the administration must take steps to allocate the funding necessary to begin improvements.
U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Thomas Donohue last week was nearing the end of a speech urging Congress to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure when he offered another option: At least make it easier to build things when the money can be found.
“If we just fix the permitting thing this year, you would create an extraordinary enthusiasm about moving forward," Mr. Donohue said, at a special forum on infrastructure in which he urged lawmakers to take tough votes, including on raising gasoline taxes, in a midterm election year.
We are particularly supportive of the Chamber’s push to eliminate federal and local permitting barriers for private construction. Elimination of these governmental challenges is essential to the privately capitalized expansion of telecommunications services necessary to keep our economy strong.
Barry Ritholz, Bloomberg View:
Donohue proposed a big infrastructure plan.… The new position is a much bigger, bolder, and more vocal proposal.… In total, Donohue’s proposal would raise about $400 billion over the next decade. That’s not enough to fix everything that needs to be repaired, but it’s certainly a good start.
Kevin J. Cosgriff, President, National Electrical Manufacturers Association:
Achieving a modernized infrastructure requires a call to action for both the public and private sectors to invest in all segments of infrastructure. Plans that utilize advanced, digitized electrification technologies will grow the economy, create new jobs, and improve our competitive position in a global economy. The package should include federal and state funding, private sector incentives, and a set of innovative policy changes that leverage multiple financing options.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has turned up the spotlight on U.S. infrastructure needs, proposing a plan to increase funding for highways, water, energy and other projects, and also to find more workers to carry out the work and require federal agencies to speed up project approvals. The Chamber has been a long-time infrastructure advocate, but its new plan… includes a particularly bold provision: a 25¢-per gallon increase in the federal gasoline tax, which now stands at 18.4¢.