If it had to take a global pandemic to break the Washington gridlock and partisan infantilism, so be it. We are at a crossroad moment now and this is perhaps the last best opportunity to address one of the critical causes of the national crisis: Decades of disinvestment in our basic infrastructure. No need to run on about the warnings from the American Society of Civil Engineers that our nation's power grid, water systems, transportation and public health infrastructure are in a state of collapse.
Yesterday President Trump tweeted about the need to shape the fourth stimulus around the $2 trillion infrastructure plan that was briefly on the table last year. By planning a major infrastructure effort as soon as it's safe for people to return to work, we guarantee a rapid recovery and a jobs program to absorb those who will permanently lose their jobs as the result of the pandemic shutdown of the economy.
We are in a rare moment when we can get bipartisan support for such a measure. Pass it now before the moment passes. Last time around, Trump's bizarre behavior was due to the fact that after he had the initial meeting with the Congressional Democrats to work out a bill, Republican lawmakers read him the riot act–probably at the behest of the Koch brothers who detest anything that involves government work for the general welfare.
Best approach to a national infrastructure plan is to establish a National Infrastructure Bank. The Fed and Treasury are accumulating trillions of dollars in new assets on the books, so there can be a Federal deposit of some of those assets (Treasuries and commercial paper) in such a bank to issue credits to viable projects. Government loan guarantees and sales of bonds in an infrastructure bank would get the ball rolling. Analogous to the War Bonds during World War II. Give citizens a 2-4 percent return on investing in job creation and infrastructure expansion–better than they can get anywhere else that is safe under the Fed's zero interest rates policy.