Infrastructure: It's Job 1 to Americans

Jan 23, 2009

We have been pushing for long-term infrastructure investment for years, and infrastructure as stimulus for months (latest testimony); but it isn’t just business community saying it, all American's see the problems and demand solutions -- and are willing to pay for them.  Frank Luntz from the L.A. Times:

I'm a pollster and political consultant associated with Republican causes: the Contract with America, the "death tax" and, of course, ending wasteful Washington spending. So why am I behind the new stimulus legislation -- the biggest spending bill ever to be considered by Congress? Maybe because when it comes to some things -- crumbling schools, overcrowded highways, an ineffective energy system, clean-water facilities that don't clean water and trains and planes that are always late -- we're all on the same side.
Last month, I conducted a national survey of 800 registered voters on their attitudes toward infrastructure investment...The survey's findings were unlike any other issue I have polled in more than a decade. Iraq, healthcare, taxes, education -- they all predictably divide and polarize Americans into political camps. Not infrastructure. Consider this: A near unanimous 94% of Americans are concerned about our nation's infrastructure. And this concern cuts across all regions of the country and across urban, suburban and rural communities.

Fully 84% of the public wants more money spent by the federal government -- and 83% wants more spent by state governments -- to improve America's infrastructure. And here's the kicker: 81% of Americans are personally prepared to pay 1% more in taxes for the cause. It's not uncommon for people to say they'd pay more to get more, but when you ask them to respond to a specific amount, support evaporates. (That 74% of normally stingy Republicans are on board for the tax increase is, to me, the most significant finding in the survey.)
New jobs and potential economic recovery are an important part of the infrastructure rebuilding effort, but if Washington cares about what Americans really want, Congress and the administration must establish four core stimulus principles to protect American taxpayers. Accountability comes first. Next is transparency...The data also show significant support for a third principle -- setting public priorities through citizen input...And finally, 16% rank measurable results as the highest priority when it comes to government investment.
Right now, 78% of Americans polled say government is responsible for the failure of America's infrastructure...they want ongoing strategic investments to improve America's standard of living and our individual quality of life. When more than 98% of Americans believe they have "the right to demand" that America's infrastructure is "efficient, convenient and modern," Washington better not fail.

Does Congress get it? Think about that the next time you're sitting in traffic.

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