Despite Congress having passed two major infrastructure bills in the last year, over $2 trillion in much-needed infrastructure is still unfunded, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). In her latest ScheerPost article, PBI Chair Ellen Brown outlines how approaches used in the past can be duplicated today to fund critical needs including projects to address drought, affordable housing, high-speed rail, and power transmission lines.
“For funding its national infrastructure campaign in the Great Depression, Congress called on the publicly-owned Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC). It was not actually a bank; it got its liquidity by issuing bonds. Notes [Todd] Tucker [in a Roosevelt Institute article], ‘The RFC … was allowed to borrow money from the Treasury and the capital markets, and then invest in relief and mobilization efforts that would eventually generate a return for taxpayers, all while skating past austerity hawks determined to cut or freeze government spending.’
“Critically needed water and other infrastructure projects can be funded without tapping the federal budget, with funds generated through a national infrastructure bank. Unlike the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, the publicly-owned bank proposed in HR 3339 is designed to be a true depository bank. … For capitalization, the NIB will follow the model of Alexander Hamilton’s First U.S. Bank: shares in the bank will be swapped for existing U.S. bonds.”
California drought farmland. Photo by Eric Sonstroem.