Sunday, August 5, 2007

New funds for U.S. infrastructure proposed hours before bridge collapse


Craig Crawford’s Trail Mix: New Bridge and Road Funds Proposed — Hours Before Tragedy

Just hours before the Minneapolis bridge collapsed yesterday, two senators with presidential ambitions jointly introduced legislation that would rebuild the nation’s crumbling infrastructure. Democrat Chris Dodd of Connecticut and Republican Chuck Hagel of Nebraska deserve some credit for foresight in trying to spotlight a desperate need before this latest disaster sent politicians scrambling to talk up the problem.

Their bill proposes a national bank charged with prioritizing projects and developing creative ways to finance them. And notably, the supporting materials for the Dodd/Hagel plan shows that at $132 billion a year, the overall price tag for repairing dilapidated roads and bridges is quite close to the annual $120 billion that the U.S. is spending in Iraq.

Considering that Dodd and Hagel are calling for an end to the Iraq war, the Minneapolis tragedy hands them an enticing opportunity to argue that Americans should rebuild their own country before spending billions more on someone else’s.

Contributing Editor Craig Crawford is a news analyst for NBC, MSNBC and CNBC. He can be reached at


This bridge tragedy, more than anything else, should outline the risks of fiscal conservatism. It leads to cutting corners and only giving the bare-bones treatment to our nation's infrastructure, such as our bridges. And then when something like this happens, our politicians say that this is a tragedy which shouldn't have happened, and then they throw money at the problem, when it probably would have cost less if they'd given the issue the money it needed in the first place.

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