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.

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  1. Laura Wilson says:

    Can McConnell get on board? Both Trump and Pelosi seem to be heading in this direction—there is hope!

  2. Great idea. This is one of the few areas where the Democrats are in agreement with Trump. Pelosi gave marching orders to the House on Monday to make infrastructure a large part of the fourth coronavirus stimulus bill. If Trump and Pelosi can get over their mutual animosity, maybe they can both get what they want. Republican leaders do not like spending on infrastructure at all, but if ever Trump needs to wield his magical hold over the Republican Party, this is the time.

  3. Rick Merlotti says:

    Glass Steagall now. The financial virus will kill us if the Covid 19 does not. Natl Bank based on the Hamiltonian precedent. New Bretton Woods fixed exchange rate system. Bring back Hill Burton. Invest like crazy in state of the art infrastructure. In other words, invest in the real physical economy worldwide. We are one species, only as strong as our weakest link. 60 years of looting the physical economy by the globalist elite have led to this crisis. Perhaps a Pecora Commission with Nuremberg powers is in order.

  4. Fred says:

    “..address one of the critical causes of the national crisis: Decades of disinvestment in our basic infrastructure.”
    Failure to maintain roads, bridges, damns or address buracratic delays such as EPA requirements, bidding processes and NIMBA legal action have zero to do with this crisis. Funding this as a “crisis” piece of legislation is going to piss away a whole lot of money that doesn’t need to be pissed away. Nothing is stopping state legislatures from spending their own money or pulling ahead their own projects to get things moving or keep them moving. Not much of this spending is going to go into the hands of employees or owners of small businesses who are ordered by state and local governments to cease operation due to this virus.

  5. different clue says:

    Rick Merlotti,
    To get a Pecora Commission with Nuremberg powers we would need a Pecora Commissioning President with Nuremberg powers on her mind.
    A President Gabbard might well do this. Or at least try.
    Perhaps the woman and the moment will sync up just right at the just-right moment.

  6. Artemesia says:

    I know nothing about Pecora but remain eager to learn.
    But Please don’t use Nuremberg as a model.
    It was corrupt from the beginning, a manifestation of the worst that the ‘western’ legal tradition had to offer.
    Rabbi Stephen Wise wrote this in a letter to his daughter in ~May 1945:

    “. . . talk and lunch . . . with Justice [Robert] Jackson. He’s a real person, I don’t wonder that Roosevelt began thinking of him as a possible successor. He . . .has grand and spacious ideas on the Nuremberg trials in mid-October, with Weizmann, Goldmann or S.S.W. [Stephen S. Wise] as Jewish witnesses to present the Jewish Case –not permitted as Amicus Curiae!
    In itself it becomes the greatest trial in history, with what Jackson calls its broad departure from Anglo-Saxon legal tradition. Retroactively “aggressive war-making” becomes criminally punishable–with membership in the Gestapo prima facie proof of criminal participation. He seems to think very well of Felix Frankfurter . . .” <.blockquote>
    Nuremberg trials made a mockery of western jurisprudence, as Jackson seemed to contemplate in advance: wholesale judgment and condemnation were made in advance of any accused having been read charges against him.
    Nuremberg ought not be relied upon as a model for revitalization of USA.

  7. LeeG says:

    And how will this be paid for? In 27 yrs of economic growth Congress and my fella Americans refused a fed gas tax increase to match inflation for transportation infrastructure. Multiple bipartisan efforts for “Infrastructure Week” failed during the Trump administration due to the inevitable need for funds. Hard times can come for our kids and we are not sacrificing a whit for them.

  8. Upstate NY'er says:

    One BIG problem:
    The Democrat-media party, the disloyal opposition.
    If Trump wants it, they don’t – the nation be damned.

  9. Barbara Ann says:

    To pick up on your last sentence; safety in the time of ZIRP is a subjective affair. The Fed’s ZIRP itself is less ‘policy’ and more PR. ZIRP started during the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) and after a little over a 4 year break – but continuing near-zero interest rates – the Fed is now seemingly in need of PR again.
    The reality is that the GFC was never fixed, just papered over for a while. It is now back with a vengeance and I fear this time it will be much worse.
    For any interested in what the coming crisis (GFC2) may look like, I would recommend to the Committee the writings of Jeffrey P. Snider. He describes the current crisis in the monetary system as at root being a chronic shortage of dollars in the international monetary (Eurodollar) system, brought about by the severe shock to normal (USD denominated) international trade.
    Fixing this looks to be every bit as hard as fighting the virus. Most worryingly of all, Jeff’s view is that the Fed seems to lack 1) the expertise, or even an understanding of the problem and 2) the will to take on the responsibility – as the Eurodollar markets are “..not under the jurisdiction of the Federal Reserve.” – wiki. The problem is, if it is not fixed the global monetary system as a whole is in danger of collapse.
    I urge people to decide for themselves what is “safe”. Personally, I would not buy long bonds today, AAA rated or otherwise. I am in fact opening an account with my local bullion dealer. Anyway, here is one of Jeff’s latest pieces, he is on Twitter too.

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