Steven Pressman is Professor of Economics at Colorado State University, in Fort Collins, Colorado and Emeritus Professor of Economics and Finance at Monmouth University in West Long Branch, New Jersey. In addition, he serves as North American Editor of the Review of Political Economy, and as Associate Editor of the Eastern Economic Journal. His main research areas are poverty and income distribution, post-Keynesian macroeconomics, and the history of economic thought. Over the past three decades, Pressman has published more than 150 articles in refereed journals and as book chapters, and has authored or edited 17 books, including Understanding Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century (Routledge, 2015). A New Guide to Post Keynesian Economics (Routledge, 2001), Alternative Theories of the State (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006), and 50 Major Economists (Routledge, 2013), which has reached its third edition and has been translated into five different languages.He is a frequent contributor to newspapers and regularly appears on TV to discuss economic issues.
After the 2018 mid-terms, with Democrats winning the House, Republicans holding a small majority in the Senate and the President becoming more surly, it is hard to image that much will get done before the 2020 election. Odds favor gridlock.
But there is are two reasons to hope we can make progress on the poor state of US infrastructure.
First, there are unmistakable signs of an infrastructure crisis — derailing trains, crumbling roadways, undrinkable tap water, and wastewater systems that endanger public health. Twenty-three US bridges have collapsed since 2000.
The American Society of Civilian Engineers gave US infrastructure a D+ grade in 2017. They estimated that $1.5 trillion in improvements are needed over the next decade, and that infrastructure problems cost each US household, on average, $3,400 annually.
Such costs add up quickly. Long commutes reduce worker productivity and wages. Congestion on roads and rails increase transportation costs and raise prices for the good. Consumers pay for car repairs due to poor quality roads, and healthcare costs due to poor quality water. Large costs arise when bridges collapse, and property is destroyed when dams and levees breech, causing massive flooding.
Gretchen Whitmer ran for Governor of Michigan in 2018 with the catchphrase “Fix the Damn Roads”.
She won handily in a state that President Trump carried in 2016—mainly because her message resonated with voters. Congress should be able to see the clear road ahead – a need to fix the damn roads, the damn bridges and the damn dams.