After the President’s State of the Union address, federal policy circles are squarely focused on how to speed and grow America’s economic recovery. President Obama was right when he said America needs “a set of concrete, practical proposals to speed up growth, strengthen the middle class and build new ladders of opportunity.”
America’s public transportation infrastructure provides one excellent opportunity to build a more equitable, prosperous economy. Here are five policy prescriptions that can help create good jobs and growth in the transportation sector:
1. Make a globally competitive investment in infrastructure. Increase federal funding to address America’s infrastructure deficits identified by the American Society of Civil Engineers and detailed in the BlueGreen Alliance’s Repair America report, especially in the transportation sector. Investments in transportation can put Americans back to work while rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges, and improving the efficiency of our rail and transit systems.
There was something tantalizing about Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech last night. When was the last time an American president talked about the simple human cruelty of our Dickensian sick leave and maternity policies? Or told CEOs to just do the right thing and raise wages for their workers?
What made Obama’s speech compelling is that he did more than just issue platitudes — he announced his decision to use executive authority to increase the pay of workers employed by companies that contract with the federal government. That will mean a nearly $3 an hour raise for hundreds of thousands of people. In an era of Tea Party-engineered partisan gridlock over pretty much everything, that’s nothing less than a seismic shift.
So why didn’t the State of the Union address leave me popping the champagne and toasting to an impending economic realignment that would reverse the nation’s slide back to the same levels of inequality we faced before the Depression?