Bridges to Employment, Part II: Occupy Wall Street Takes Up the Cryby Gary Clyde Hufbauer | November 19th, 2011 | 01:54 pm
The Washington branch of Occupy Wall Street has moved in recent days to block the structurally deficient Key Bridge, arguing that rebuilding bridges is the right way to create jobs for hundreds of thousands of unemployed construction workers. The Tea Party violently objects to deficit spending and higher taxes. These political poles should unite on a simple answer: user fees, collected electronically, to pay the cost of rebuilding not only 150,000 deficient and obsolete bridges but also thousands of miles of crumbling highways.
As I suggested in an earlier RealTime post, neither House Speaker John Boehner nor Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, nor 287 other Republicans in the Congress, will enact the taxes Obama has proposed to pay for bridge and highway construction in his now shredded jobs bill.
The Occupy Wall Street movement is right about infrastructure, however. America needs to rebuild more than 150,000 deficient and obsolete bridges, just as it must rebuild its stressed and crumbling ports, airports, highways, waterways, and power grids. As I wrote originally, the money can be found from the pages of American history: Toll finance is a practice dating from the early days of the Republic, when turnpikes and the Erie Canal (opened in 1825) were financed by tolls. For more details, and the solution out of this problem, read my original post.