Solid commentary the other day from Morton Kondracke on the topic of infrastructure. Nothing earthshaking — just a balanced, sensible, things-to-be-argued-over column about ways to achieve necessary infrastructure improvements in a partisan political world. Kondracke says Republicans should not rule out tax increases, and Democrats should be willing to accept private-public partnerships, things like long-term leases and toll roads.
Urgent attention will be paid for a few weeks to America’s highway bridges — 15 percent to 25 percent of which are believed to be structurally deficient — because of the collapse in Minneapolis.
But attention ought to be paid in a bigger way to the deficiencies in America’s highways, its electric grid, railways, airports, waterways and urban utilities. They all are clogged, inefficient, a sap on the nation’s productivity and competitiveness — and, in some cases, dangerous.
What’s needed is bipartisan action. Republicans, starting with President Bush, have to agree to spend more money and increase taxes, especially the gasoline tax. Democrats need to convince environmentalists to stop blocking needed projects and agree to let the private sector have a greater role in building public infrastructure.
The attitude Kondracke recommends is the right one to have. Let’s not start the much-delayed national conversation about infrastructure by putting anything off limits.
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