It is time to talk budgets in Washington. The president and Congress are discussing debt ceilings and budget cuts, and “living within our means” is a common refrain. As we engage in this exercise, it is useful to understand that we need to be smart about our cuts and make investments in our future. The rest of the world—including nations that are belt-tightening too, such as Britain—is spending money on infrastructure. There are clear reasons why.
Just take the example of two federal programs: Amtrak and the High-Speed and Intercity Rail (HSIR) Program. The two programs have asked for $2.2 billion and $2.5 billion respectively for next year’s budget. The majority of the Amtrak request, and all of the HSIR program, is for infrastructure development.
The HSIR program could create 60,000 jobs, and the Amtrak appropriation would save or create a similar number of positions. So, between these two programs alone, we can save or create 110,000 jobs—and invest in infrastructure that makes the nation more productive in the long term.
The New York Times says it well: “Around China, real estate prices and investment have surged in the more than 200 inland cities that have already been connected by high-speed rail in the last three years. Businesses are flocking to these cities, now just a few hours by bullet train from China’s busiest and most international metropolises.”
America could use just such a boost. Tell your representatives in Congress to support Amtrak and the High-Speed and Intercity Rail Program.