We have come to a moment not unlike that at which America stood at the end of World War II–at the end of one era and the beginning of another. In that moment, Dwight Eisenhower and America’s other business and government leaders undertook a massive program of infrastructure investment than enabled a half century of national growth, job creation, and enhanced security. In so doing, he built on a U.S. tradition of investment and long term wealth creation in infrastructure that dates back to the earliest days of the republic, from the Eerie Canal through America’s railways to the Grand Cooley Dam.
In recent decades, however, we have failed to maintain that infrastructure and today America’s aging highways, bridges, ports, airports, air traffic control system, power grid, rail, and other systems are not only not up to the challenges we face but they are a liability. The first panel reviewed the depth of America’s infrastructure crisis, the political and economic missteps that depend the problem, and the challenges standing in the way of recovering. They also examined how infrastructure investment leads to lasting job creation and enhanced investment flows. Notably however, this was not an effort in belaboring defects in our system but rather in identifying the areas where work can get done and produce maximum overall benefits for American workers and for the U.S. economic as a whole.
Edward Luce is the chief commentator and columnist at the Financial Times.
Edward G. Rendell
Edward G. Rendell is the former governor of Pennsylvania and a distinguished scholar at the Brookings Institution.
Carl Bernstein shared a Pulitzer Prize with Bob Woodward for his coverage Watergate for the Washington Post. His most recent book is A Woman in Charge: The Life of Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Jeff Madrick is a senior fellow at the Century Foundation and director of its Bernard L. Schwartz Rediscovering Government Initiative.
Bernard L. Schwartz
Bernard L. Schwartz is the chairman and CEO of BLS Investments, LLC, a private investment firm, and manager of the Bernard and Irene Schwartz Foundation.
Full List of Discussants
Robert Atkinson, Information Technology and Innovation Foundation
Deborah Gordon, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Robert D. Hormats, Kissinger & Associates
Rosabeth M. Kanter, Harvard Business School
David Livingston, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Will Marshall, Progressive Policy Institute
Robert Puentes, Brookings Institution
Michael Sargent, Heritage Foundation
Damon Silvers, AFL-CIO
Scott Smith, Harvard Kennedy School of Government
Felicia Wong, Roosevelt Institute