tv Public Affairs Events CSPAN November 22, 2016 7:35pm-8:01pm EST
the goals of the afl in ctrying to get something done to take advantage of this opportunity. and how do we finance this? how do we fund this? what's the scope of what we need and what you would like to see done? >> well, first, i think we really see in this panel an unusual sort of convergence of opinion. from people on different sides of partisan divides, the business community. you know, a lot of what i have -- a lot of what i wad want to say here my colleague in the chamber has already said. but i'll repeat it, because that's the nature of washington. first, i think we need to understand the scale of the problem. the american society of civil engineers, as has already been said, estimates that our infrastructure deficit, our
unfunded maintenance, is $3.2 trillion. trillion. an order of magnitude larger than all the campaign discussions. but it's not the full story. that really is about maintaining that inheritance that we got from our parents and grandparents. it's about maintaining interstate highway system that goes through oklahoma city. it's about maintaining ramada. but technology moves on. and if we simply maintain our inheritance, we're not going to be globally competitive. so the real target number for infrastructure in this country is well in excess of $3.2 trillion. the afl-cio, we think $5 trillion is a wealthy guess. and it's important that we understand there's more than transportation. transportation is absolutely critical. but it's important that we think about our nation's infrastructure challenges, transportation, communications, and energy. as the full range of public
goods that are critical to the united states being a competitive place to do business in the 21st century. so if that's the scale, how might we -- the second thing to understand is timeline. this is not a short-term matter. the assets that we need to construct, whether it's the repair and maintenance of our existing mass transit, interstate highway systems, the construction of the power transmission lines needed to get energy from places where there's wind to places where there's demand, whether it's our ports. these are assets that in many cases take a long time to build, and that last a long time. so we have to think about the financingw÷jmn that frame. and as has been alluded to by several of the prior speakers, in many respects, as a financial problem, this is not very hard.
we have in the tactics of the bond market and in the federal government's borrowing capacity the lowest cost sources of capital in the world. there are people in this country and around the world who are prepared to lend us the money we need to rebuild our -- build these systems at extraordinarily low rates. and we have programs that provide the flexibility to project sponsors of state and local government to get the job done. the idea that somehow there's a financial problem here that's unmanageable isn't correct. and in fact, that idea is really dangerous. because it leads to the notion that we need to construct our financing as though our infrastructure needs were ordinary business needs. so the model that we have heard about, the model that we need to basically go out and find folks who are willing to invest
capital that can be paid -- that are going to demand highways in return and going to be paid for out of user fees, which has been talked about a lot, and was at the center of the paper that the trump campaign put out about two weeks ago, that idea simply doesn't work. we can argue about whether you think that public assets should be privately held or whether somebody's going to be looting the treasury, but the fundamental fact is that the numbers don't work. these are public goods. there's no way to get the user fees out of the interstate highway system to pay for that financing structure. and if we say that that financing structure is what we're going to do, then what we're really saying is we're going to do nothing. and we cannot afford to do nothing. now, i think you have heard from my friend from the chamber that in fact, we've got the structures we need to work with. the question is will we have the
political vision, the ly leadership, to invest the way we need to as a society. now, i'm going to close what i have to say by adding one more thing. we are -- this is really -- this is really an area where there is enormous potential for healing in our country. there's enormous potential for healing across the global business divide, across the democrat/republican divide, across many other divides. there's need for infrastructure in rural america, need for broadband in the inner cities and in the rural communities. there's enormous potential for building better lives here. but, but, and it really astounds me to say this. i had no idea i would be having to say this at this event. we have -- there's a prior question. there's a prior question that has to be answered. otherwise, it's not going to have any meaningful
conversation. yesterday, and i beg your indulgence for this. i have to say this. yesterday, i went to church two miles from my home in suburban maryland at an episcopal church where someone had sprayed on the walls of the church "trump nation, whites only." the episcopal bishop of washington in this church service asked that our president-elect specifically denounce the people who did that. we cannot have this type of conversation as long as that question remains unanswered. >> okay. and we are obviously very empathetic to that. and totally understand that, and this country needs to come together. and it seems to me that working on issues where we can find common ground is probably the best and the first place we
should go. so perhaps a little cooperation all across the board might be helpful. let me, before we go to questions, let me ask you, so i agree. the process and some of the money is out there, but how do we get there? does somebody, ed, do you believe that some type of income tax -- tax reform is going to happen, is repatriation a way to try to jump start the issue? >> it could be one way. i think it's very unclear about what's the actual way we're going here. i think there's a lot of ideas that have been thrown out from the trump transition team. tax reform is obviously something that mr. trump has talked about. we know that in the house, paul ryan has talked about. the challenge with that is that a lot of people are for tax
reform until you talk about the particulars of tax reform, and it kind of gets more challenging. the other challenge from an infrastructure standpoint on tax reform is repatriation, there's about 14 different ways to repatriate. we don't see it as a long-term sustainable funding source. most are one-time influxions of money. we need a long-term sustained funding solution so that mayors and governors know what they're going to get from their federal partner for a good period of time so then they can make tough decisions locally so they can make the properly investments in infrastructure. we don't just need a couple hundred million dollars and say go at it and best luck. we need to make a plan that says we're making a major investment in assets that's kind of the backbone of the economy, and any kind of economic recovery plan has to include a major investment in infrastructure.
>> that's true. this last tuesday, over $200 billion in state and local referendum passed. so if you tell a city or a county what it is you want to build and why you want to build it and they can see it, over 70% of them pass, almost every election. your thoughts on that? is that the wave of the future? do we have to keep doing that? or is a federal partner -- >> sure, i'm heartened to see that. especially since in this region, we need like most major systems like ours, the metro system has, a dedicated funding source. people are willing to make investments in public transportation to make their lives easier. and that's what we saw around the country. we're a little different in that our system is supported by three jurisdictions. so we need to come up with a regional way to make that
investment. i don't have to tell you, it's already been said, that the deferred maintenance, the maintenance we have foregone on the system is going to cost us many times more than it would have if we had that dedicated funding source for the 40 years of metro's history. so i think that's heartening. also, people are smart. right? they see the gridlock on our streets. especially in metropolitan areas where people are flocking to cities. they know that if we are to maintain our growth, that we have to take advantage of our entire system. so that's public transportation, that's biking and bridges. i like to use an example that is emblematic of what the federal government has failed to do. we have a bridge that crosses between the district of columbia in virginia. it belongs to the federal government. and all of us have been fighting over who's going to fix the
bridge. it belongs to the national park service. and the national park service has, you know, evidently, a lot of bridges across the country that are in similar disrepair. so the leadership -- and i couldn't agree with my friend from the chamber more that a lot of these questions are about leadership. and we just had this -- i had this discussion just recently with my chief financial officer. i want to ask my colleagues in maryland and virginia, the voters in the district, they're going to have to ask their voters to do something that none of us may be around for. none of us. when the real bill comes due for metro, it's going to be five, six years from now, but it is coming due. what are we going to do to say right now, even though i may or may not be here, i may have to ask the tough questions to get additional revenue to fix it, but all of us have to say, this is what i'm saying. i want to be the mayor that
works with these governors to fix it. not the next one. these governors, to fix it once and for all. and i think that all the members of the congress, this is what it comes down to, when we're talking about our bridge that connects washington, d.c. and the commonwealth of virginia, that no -- we don't have two senators, as you know. i'm just saying. we don't have them. so i talk to their senators. and they have to talk to their governor. but everybody across the country is kind of, you know, scrapping for that same, that same bridge reconstruction. and so we do really need a plan. if i can do it for my infrastructure in the district, certainly we can expect that of our federal agencies to say this is -- these are the priorities that have to get done, but starving the national park service is not the way to get there. i like to add an additional thing to what we have heard, in
addition to transportation and communication and energy. i would like us to think of affordable housing as a critical part of our infrastructure as well. because as affordable housing crumbles in cities, they just change the character of our cities. and the federal government has been a partner, less so recently, and i expect moving forward it will be less involved in housing, but for the affordable housing that has been supported by the feds, we like to approach a way to keep it affordable. >> you mentioned the voters' willingness to pass taxes to pay for infrastructure. generally, that's true if it's not an increase in taxes. if it's an increase, it's much, much tougher. there's a couple evolutions that effect the building environment. one is health. we're realizing the building environment affects health more than we realized.
in oklahoma city, we redesigned our streets. we designed the city around cars, now it's more pedestrian frontally, more bike friendly. we have rebuilt our entire grid. we're also about to break ground on a street car system, and none of that increased taxes. in fact, we paid crash. there was no debt created. our citizens are willing to invest in things. if you want to increase their taxes, you have to have a pretty compelling argument and it's going to be much, much tougher, and if you have a funded opponent, you're probably wasting your time. >> you want to say something? >> two things. one, i tried to expand the list of infrastructure categories, and i did an inadequate job. you know, the labor movement has been funding affordable housing for a long time through the afl-cio's housing investment trust. it's all in partnership with the federal government. mayor bowser's point about this
is actually spot on. in addition, talking about parks. the park service, recreational facilities are part of our public goods portfolio. they have a lot to do with do w health, as our colleague from oklahoma city said. and i think educational institutions are also part of this landscape. the financing challenge really is -- there's a couple of tricky things here. one, right now there's been a big push by a small group of companies that would like to use this -- use the infrastructure challenge as a way to get a huge tax break for their offshore operations. that's what the repatriation language means. there are ways of doing that that would be fair to the companies that create jobs in
america. pay the full tax rate. and there are ways of working things out, but we have to be careful because there's one thing this election was a clear mandate for was public policy that did not incentivize the movement of u.s. jobs offshore. and there's ideas out there that in the name of financing infrastructure are actually going to weaken the united states and subsidize offshoring. that strikes me as something nobody voted for. the challenge here is to, for political leadership to support financing vehicles both at the state and local level but also at the federal level where there is more flex -- there's more flexibility than there is at the state and local level. that can genuinely fund long-term infrastructure investment at the scale we need. in terms of the coming couple of years, this is a critical opportunity for real political
leadership. and we will pay a terrible price if instead we push this further and further down the road. >> lrtd. we're literally out of time but i'm not going to pay attention to that. who has a question or two? right here. right there. >> hi. my name is ben levine with metro lab network. i'm struck after this election by the politically, the urban/rural divide in terms of candidates that different folks are supporting. and we now have a situation where both the executive and lifting branches in congress have been elected by overwhelmingly rural and sort of post-industrial voters. i also look at the republican platform that looks to zero out transit and talks about how urbanization is sort of social engineering. and so i'm just curious to hear from the mayors, both democrat and republican, how do you think about sort of the future of
urbanization in light of the new administration? >> well, not too many people live in rural, washington, d.c., but -- >> zero. >> lucky. >> yeah, the rural/urban divide is real. it's been well chronicled, and it plays out in our state legislatures, you know, frequently. but i'm not seeing a disconnect. i haven't seen a study that says rural voters aren't for infrastructure. i think it's universal. there's reasons to be for and against things but i don't thing urban/rural divide is going to play out on infrastructure. and i should probably add that the advent of the autonomous vehicle is probably going to have more to do with change in the built-in environment than anything we've encountered in our lifetime. that's just around the corner and going to affect rural and urban development. >> over here.
>> so one of the opportunities that -- >> can you just identify who you're with. >> stephanie with nrdc. and one of the opportunities that is presented with this infrastructure bill is an opportunity to really reimagine local empowerment in that state governments, right, we understand that president-elect trump is not necessarily looking at the feds to be the leader on some of these. that there may be an opportunity for state, local opportunities. and so is there -- there are 36 governors who are going to be up in 2018. and so as mayor bowser was talking about just the relationships that are required and damon talks about the opportunity that's created and that's just thinking about common grounds, how do we really have a conversation around the regional investments that can happen that really support kind of the small towns that are around, the bedroom communities around some of the larger cities, some of the aging cities. and where is the opportunity for
innovation in the shared economy, especially as we think about some of the flexible dollars we had through tiger that could create some spaces for us to do more. thanks. >> i'm not sure. well, i think one of the things that your question raises, your question raised a lot of things and i'm mindful that we're out of time. one of the things is the role of state and local government in planning the built environment and then essentially helping to shape national policy that supports local and regional plans. this is something that we in the labor movement are very strongly believe is necessary and is a way of, again, trying to bridge some divides that seem very particularly deep in washington and maybe less deep in -- i don't mean the washington that mayor bowser is mayor of, but
federal washington. and more reflect the ways in which our people kind of live together and come together in the areas we live in. i would just suggest that in addition to this, we really have to think as we're doing this about the impact of infrastructure investment on our communities that we have a lot of people in this country that have been left out of economic growth in the last 30 years in a lot of different ways. and people in our inner cities, people in our rural areas, people in the deindustrialized parts of this country. it's a critical question whether or not infrastruct are investment will reach them. if not, then these communities cannot participate in the global economy. and it is not going to happen by accident. it is also -- this is deeply and profoundly related to how workforce policy relates to infrastructure. what kind of jobs are we going to create, and who will they be
available to, and who will be trained? from the labor movement's perspective, and this is critical, again, to building common ground. from the labor movement's perspective, it's absolutely essential that our infrastructure agenda have the labor protections and the provisions for training and for inclusiveness that will result in all the good things i just mentioned happening. it will not happen by accident. and if there's the belief that somehow public goods will respond that somehow we will create public goods in the same way that we create software or chewing gum, what will happen is not that -- not that somehow -- what will happen is we won't create public goods. we just won't. we've been doing that, that not creating public goods, for 30 years. and it's not a tenable thing to do. >> anybody else? >> yeah, can i just add from the business perspective, i have the
prif leng of traveling to a lot of state and local chambers. any community, transportation is one of the top three. when businesses decide, mayors can tell you when business comes to them and talk about locating their business in their community, they want to know there's viable transportation options. they want a toolkit of options. it's not just highways or transit. it's a variety of options available. so when we talk about this divide, i think there's a lot of places around the country. if you have all these ballot initiatives there was a union involved, there was businesses, so this isn't a partisan issue. and for communities to succeed, they need transportation as one of their core tenements. we've heard the president-elect say he wants to rebuild the inner cities. a lot of his support was in rural areas. this is a place we can bring everyone together and provide toolkit and options for those communities to have the ability to succeed that didn't have them a few years ago. >> okay. unfortunately, we're now like ten minutes over, so i think you
coming up, a look at russia under vladimir putin. that's next on c-span3. then a conversation on the potential economic team in the trump administration. later, the ongoing protests of the dakota access pipeline project. after that, white house spokesman josh earnest is asked about the transition process with president-elect donald trump. c-span's "washington journal," live every day with news and policy issues that impact you. coming up wednesday morning, an analysis of president-elect donald trump's infrastructure proposals. its