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Thu Mar 22, 2012, 11:19 AM

CAP: Ties that Bind: How a Strong Middle Class Supports Strong Public Infrastructure

The dire state of America’s infrastructure is an all-too-familiar story. ... This is the case despite abundant evidence of the needs and the benefits: Infrastructure investments boost productivity and spur economic growth, which is ever more important as other countries are making investments to pass us by.

There are certainly many causes, but one factor that has not received adequate attention is the decline of our middle class. [bWhen the middle class is strong, their interests—such as for greater investments in infrastructure—are more likely to be translated into political action. But when society is very unequal, the priorities of the rich tend to dominate.

To be sure, this simple correlation between growing income inequality and declining public investments in infrastructure ignores a host of other factors that could be driving this relationship, among them which party controls government and the changing nature of the economy. But there is ample evidence that one of the reasons we aren’t making adequate investments in infrastructure is because high levels of economic inequality have distorted our democratic process. Academic studies examined in this issue brief alongside our own analysis indicate that the same relationship between a growing middle class and rising infrastructure investments occurs in other countries as well as here at home in our 50 states.

Several academics have looked directly into the relationship between income inequality and public investments and found that societies with stronger middle classes are more willing to invest in growth-oriented public goods. ... According to academic studies, economic inequality can breed a selfish orientation toward public policy and reduce support for policies such as infrastructure spending that benefit many other people. ... In contrast, people in strong middle-class societies feel they share a similar fate and thus are more willing to make investments in which they may not directly benefit. These investments include roads that they may not drive on, power lines they won’t use, and schools their children won’t attend.


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Reply CAP: Ties that Bind: How a Strong Middle Class Supports Strong Public Infrastructure (Original post)
pampango Mar 2012 OP
pampango Mar 2012 #1

Response to pampango (Original post)

Fri Mar 23, 2012, 03:38 PM

1. GOP Threatens Transportation Funding Shutdown That Could Jeopardize 1.9 Million Jobs

Representing the 1% the GOP cares little for infrastructure that would benefit the 99%.


House Republicans last night rejected the Senate’s bipartisan transportation reauthorization bill and said they would instead adopt a short-term resolution that would maintain current funding levels for 90 days. With just 10 days until the current short-term authorization plan expires, that means House Republicans have made possible a transportation shutdown that could force more than 1.9 million workers off the job.

The Senate approved MAP-21, its transportation bill, 74-22 last week. The bill “is the biggest jobs bill that Congress will consider this year,” according to its main Democratic sponsor, California Sen. Barbara Boxer. The bill is also fully paid for. A long-term House bill that was rife with problems — not least that it would have bankrupted the Highway Trust Fund — has already been defeated.

According to the Department of Transportation, MAP-21, which continues the current levels of funding plus inflation, would save 1.9 million transportation jobs that would temporarily disappear during a shutdown. The bill would also create roughly 1 million new jobs, according to Democratic estimates, bringing the total number of jobs in jeopardy to nearly 3 million.

If Congress fails to authorize a new transportation package, it wouldn’t be the first time House Republicans have forced workers off the job. Last August, the GOP skipped town after voting on a debt package without reauthorizing the Federal Aviation Administration, forcing the agency to temporarily furlough 4,000 workers while others worked without pay.

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