DC Dispatch: Progressive Ideas in Air at ‘Making it America’ Meeting

Lindsay Beyerstein

WASHINGTON — Labor leaders, business organizations, public officials and citizen groups have gathered here today to discuss progressive solutions for economic recovery at the Making it America: Building the New Economy conference.

This morning, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D‑Conn.) advocated the creation of an infrastructure development bank modeled on the European Development Bank. DeLauro says we need to think big and act big to reverse unemployment and prevent what she calls lost generation of American workers.”

The conference is co-sponsored by the Institute for America’s Future and the Alliance for American Manufacturing. Featured speakers include AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, United Steel Workers President Leo Gerard, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D‑Ohio), and Kate Gordon of the Apollo Alliance.

DeLauro’s proposed public infrastructure development bank would be an independent agency under the supervision of the Treasury Department that would loan money to projects that serve the public interest. Such a bank might lend money to retrofit public buildings to meet the latest energy efficiency standards, or to upgrade transportation infrastructure.

Investing in transportation, communication and infrastructure is smart in the short-term and the long-term. A $1 billion investment in transportation yields 47,000 jobs and $6.2 billion in increased economic activity, DeLauro noted. In the short term, nearly 50,000 American workers get high-paying jobs that cannot be outsourced. Over the long term, the country gets faster trains, better roads, and other resources that help goods and services circulate more efficiently — laying the foundations for future economic growth.

She noted that public investment in infrastructure has always driven economic growth and job creation in America.

DeLauro has co-sponsored legislation to create the bank along with Reps. Anthony Weiner (D‑N.Y.), Steve Israel (D‑N.Y.) and Keith Ellison(D‑Minn.).

The proposal has been endorsed by a broad spectrum of labor and management groups. How often do the SEIU and the Chamber of Commerce see eye-to-eye on anything?

U.S. pension funds and private equity are investing in infrastructure overseas,” DeLauro said. Let’s bring those dollars home.”

Lindsay Beyerstein is an award-winning investigative journalist and In These Times staff writer who writes the blog Duly Noted. Her stories have appeared in Newsweek, Salon, Slate, The Nation, Ms. Magazine, and other publications. Her photographs have been published in the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times’ City Room. She also blogs at The Hillman Blog (http://​www​.hill​man​foun​da​tion​.org/​h​i​l​l​m​a​nblog), a publication of the Sidney Hillman Foundation, a non-profit that honors journalism in the public interest.
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