President Obama Sets Out to Fix a Broken Country

Friday, February 22, 2013

The intersection of I-5 and I-405 in Portland, Oregon. (Auraelius/flickr)

President Obama proposed more infrastructure spending and repair in this year's State of the Union address. But it's a bigger problem than just one speech, or one new initiative, or even the latest $40 billion the president wants to throw at the repair bill we already have around the country.

We've put off maintenance for so long that we may be stuck with a much worse fix-it job than if we'd just taken care of the problem all along. That's the central problem according to Adie Tomer. He's an associate fellow at the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution.

Guests:

Adie Tomer

Comments [3]

Paul Taslimi

Indeed it is a bigger job that it would have been had anyone payed attention. In the orgy of tax cuts over the past decades the recurring refrain has always been "well business folks need to pay less taxes so that they can invest in their businesses and they will then hire people".Hire people to work in Malls that are falling apatr? Hire people in businesses that people can't actually drive to? Hire people so that they can provide service to non-existent customers that could not travel to stores? Hire people in towns that could not afford to maintain their their sewer and water infrastructure or could not afford to pay their teachers or firmen because some idiot thought tax cuts trump infrastructure when it comes to increasing employment? 21st century Capitalism requires infrastructure and its not just roads and transportation and this simple fact will never be understood by those whose entire mental infrastructure is held up by idea of that once you give a tax cut all would be better! Look around. Is everything "all better"?

Feb. 22 2013 01:52 PM
Janice from Lynnwood

Love listening to your program. Thanks for being there. Today's program on the proposed infrastructure spending got me thinking, "Why reinvent the CCC Wheel?" For over a century this nation's youth programs have been teaching both Girl and Boy Scouts to take up tools of service (to the tune of nearly 12 million Boy Scout service hours by more than 2.7 million youth members in 2011 alone [Scouting.org]). While this includes a wide variety of projects, a majority are about maintainance. As a nation sustained by scouts, scouters and their supporters, it's time to upgrade the 80 year old CCC tricks on the backbone of our collective community service experience while also addressing local unemployment needs. Nothing like working out two problems at once!

Feb. 22 2013 11:36 AM
simon from nyc

in this conversation of failing vital infrastructure across the nation rarely focused on by mainstream media, has anyone ventured that perhaps the US has reached a point of negative returns, requiring all current resource/income just for maintaining what it has; that perhaps is time we as a society begin to start considering and finding ways of a graceful downscaling of our "needs" in order to ready ourselves for a future that will be marked by a lot less resource base, a lot less energy, and thus a lot less capital?

What we should be doing is using what we have left to redevelop, enhance local rail at all cities/states. Rail require a lot less maintenance, last a lot longer than roads and use a lot less energy once they're built, unlike roads that need a continual increase in people using gasoline...

Feb. 22 2013 11:05 AM

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