Interstate 5 Bridge over the Columbia River
The aging bridge carrying Interstate 5 traffic over the Columbia River at the Washington/Oregon state line (Photo: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

Edi­tor’s Note: We are pleased to wel­come Alphec­ca Mut­tardy to the Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate to dis­cuss the need for leg­is­la­tion that could strength­en our econ­o­my and reduce our infra­struc­ture deficit: H.R. 3339. Alphec­ca is a macro-econ­o­mist on the Advi­so­ry Board of the Coali­tion for a Nation­al Infra­struc­ture Bank. 

For the past six­ty years, when our gov­ern­ment fought infla­tion, it did so by cut­ting the mon­ey sup­ply and rais­ing inter­est rates, which almost always brought on a reces­sion and loss of jobs. Then, the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment spent more than it earned to bring those jobs back, which raised the nation­al debt. 

Today, our debt stands at $30.6 tril­lion, and the capac­i­ty to extend it fur­ther is exhaust­ed. A recent Con­gres­sion­al Bud­get Office (CBO) fore­cast sug­gests that inter­est pay­ments on the debt will explode over the next ten years – the result of ris­ing inter­est rates. Mean­while, the White House and Democ­rats in Con­gress are try­ing to fig­ure out what kind of fis­cal response the mer­cu­r­ial Sen­a­tor Joe Manchin of West Vir­ginia will agree to vote for. 

We need to replace this proven cycle of failed poli­cies with a proven set of work­able ones. That’s where a prop­er­ly con­struct­ed pub­lic bank comes in.

Leg­is­la­tion cur­rent­ly pend­ing in Con­gress (HR 3339) pro­pos­es to cre­ate a $5 tril­lion Nation­al Infra­struc­ture Bank (NIB) to finance infra­struc­ture projects all across Amer­i­ca. It would be a sep­a­rate insti­tu­tion, set up as a gov­ern­ment-owned lend­ing bank, and cap­i­tal­ized with exist­ing Trea­suries held by the pub­lic sector.

That’s the same mod­el that was used suc­cess­ful­ly four times before in our nation’s past, start­ing with the First Bank of the Unit­ed States, cre­at­ed by Trea­sury Sec­re­tary Alexan­der Hamil­ton, and end­ing with Pres­i­dent Franklin Delano Roo­sevelt’s Recon­struc­tion Finance Cor­po­ra­tion (RFC). 

Except for a very small appro­pri­a­tion from Con­gress to open its doors, the pro­posed NIB will pay its own way. It will not require new fed­er­al out­lays or debt. 

In fact, NIB oper­a­tions will gen­er­ate rev­enue for fed­er­al, state, and local gov­ern­ments by expand­ing the econ­o­my. NIB will also address the eco­nom­ic prob­lems we’re see­ing in the Unit­ed States today by: 

  • Cat­alyz­ing the cre­ation of mil­lions of new, great-pay­ing jobs to raise short- and long-term eco­nom­ic growth
  • Pro­vid­ing financ­ing to deal with the back­log of infra­struc­ture projects that are still unfund­ed, like local roads and bridges, water infra­struc­ture, the elec­tric grid, high speed rail, afford­able hous­ing, broad­band, and more
  • Pro­mot­ing a resur­gence of Amer­i­can manufacturing;
  • Com­bat­ing infla­tion by increas­ing eco­nom­ic pro­duc­tion and mak­ing our econ­o­my more effi­cient (imag­ine trans­porta­tion bot­tle­necks reduced or elim­i­nat­ed, bet­ter con­nec­tiv­i­ty in rur­al areas, few­er “sup­ply chain” prob­lems, greater sup­ply and low­er prices thanks to added manufacturing).

This leg­is­la­tion makes use of a proven mod­el that has served our coun­try well in the past. A nation­wide grass­roots coali­tion has come togeth­er to urge Con­gress and Pres­i­dent Biden to get this done. Our coun­try needs to adopt and pass H.R. 3339 to cre­ate a Hamil­ton­ian Nation­al Infra­struc­ture Bank. For more infor­ma­tion on the NIB, and how you can help, check out the coali­tion’s web­site

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