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Renewing America

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Showing posts for "Infrastructure"

Dumb Government and Smart Government

by Edward Alden
Kevin Spacey House of Cards Alice Tully Hall Lincoln Center New York City Actor Kevin Spacey arrives at the premiere of Netflix's television series "House of Cards" at Alice Tully Hall in the Lincoln Center in New York City (Stephen Chernin/Courtesy Reuters).

There were two stories in the paper over the weekend – both of them local to the Washington, DC area – that perfectly captured the difference between smart government spending and dumb government spending. Let’s start with the dumb first.

Since 2012, the Maryland state government has been offering increasingly generous tax credits to persuade filmmakers to locate their productions in the state, most notably the Netflix series “House of Cards.” A new report from the non-partisan Maryland Department of Legislative Services concludes that the state has wasted more than $60 million to encourage productions that create only a handful of short-term jobs and bring little revenue back to the state. For every dollar the state spends on tax incentives, the report found, about 10 cents comes back. Read more »

Obama’s Disappointing Legacy on Transportation Policy

by Rebecca Strauss
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about transportation infrastructure during a visit to the Tappan Zee Bridge in Tarrytown, New York May 14, 2014 (Kevin Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters). U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about transportation infrastructure during a visit to the Tappan Zee Bridge in Tarrytown, New York May 14, 2014 (Kevin Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters).

We’ve seen it all before. Today Vice President Biden gave a speech calling for more infrastructure investment, but without offering a way to pay for it. We heard the same from President Obama this past July, May and February. While the message echoes over and over again, not much in the way of actual policy is changing. Now that we are nearly six years deep into the Obama administration, it is becoming clearer that Obama’s transportation legacy is sizing up to be a disappointment. His initiatives have fallen flat or were obstructed by Congress, and he (along with Congress) has done little to solve the fundamental problem of federal transportation policy—finding the revenue to pay for all the infrastructure investment he’s calling for. Read more »

How to Keep America’s Roads and Bridges from Crumbling

by Renewing America Staff
Construction Tappan Zee Tarrytown New York Construction is seen under way on the Tappan Zee Bridge in Tarrytown, New York May 14, 2014 (Kevin Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters).

Last week, President Obama announced an initiative to ramp up investment in the United States’s ailing infrastructure. The newly-established Transportation Investment Center is a one-stop shop at the Department of Transportation that connects state and local officials with tools to support private financing for infrastructure projects. In a new op-ed for Fortune, CFR Senior Fellow Heidi Crebo-Rediker argues that the program will help fill the ‘knowledge gap’ among state and local officials, and will facilitate greater private sector investment and more public-private partnerships, while still protecting taxpayers. Read more »

Driverless Cars

by Steven J. Markovich
A monitor in the back seat displays sensor readings and other information in a driverless car at the Volkswagen Automotive Innovation Laboratory at Stanford University (Kevin Bartram/Courtesy Reuters). A monitor in the back seat displays sensor readings and other information in a driverless car at the Volkswagen Automotive Innovation Laboratory at Stanford University (Kevin Bartram/Courtesy Reuters).

Driverless cars promise great benefits such as fewer accidents, elimination of drunk driving, better utilization of existing highways, and letting commuters work or relax while en route. The technology has developed rapidly over the past decade, aided by research grants from multiple governments and competitions funded by the U.S. military. While several automakers have announced plans to bring cars with limited autonomous capabilities to the market by 2020, there is still a need for a clear legal framework that ensures self-driving vehicles are safe while setting appropriate limits for manufacturer’s liability. A new backgrounder, Driverless Cars, explores this emerging technology, the challenges that remain, and its benefits, which have been estimated at over a trillion dollars annually for the U.S. economy.

An Easy Way to Get Smarter on Infrastructure Finance

by Rebecca Strauss
Vehicles drive on the new eastern span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay bridge in San Francisco, California September 2, 2013 (Stephen Lam/Courtesy Reuters). Vehicles drive on the new eastern span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay bridge in San Francisco, California September 2, 2013 (Stephen Lam/Courtesy Reuters).

“The United States has an infrastructure investment problem,” so starts CFR Senior Fellow Heidi Crebo-Rediker’s compelling new policy innovation memo released yesterday. As we lay out in our report on federal transportation policy, the country should be spending one-third more than current levels just to be able to maintain the infrastructure we alrady have. Using more private money is one way to plug the gap. But many state and local governments, who are responsible for paying for and managing most of the nation’s infrastructure, do not have the expertise of using innovative financing structures that share risk, channel private money effectively, and give taxpayers value for money. Read more »

Why We Don’t Have the Aviation Infrastructure We Need…and What to Do About It

by Guest Blogger for Edward Alden
An American Airlines jet passes the air traffic control tower on the runway at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), California (Patrick T. Fallon/Courtesy Reuters). An American Airlines jet passes the air traffic control tower on the runway at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), California (Patrick T. Fallon/Courtesy Reuters).

The following post was written by Greg Principato, who was President of Airports Council International–North America, the trade association representing U.S. and Canadian airports, from 2005-2013. He was also Executive Director of the National Commission to Ensure a Strong Competitive Airline Industry (Clinton Administration) and a member of the Secure Borders and Open Doors Advisory Committee (George W. Bush Administration). Read more »

New Energy and U.S. Economic Vulnerability

by Edward Alden
U.S. President Barack Obama walks past a pumpjack on his way to deliver remarks on energy independence in New Mexico, March 21, 2012. (Jason Reed/Courtesy Reuters) U.S. President Barack Obama walks past a pumpjack on his way to deliver remarks on energy independence in New Mexico, March 21, 2012. (Jason Reed/Courtesy Reuters)

One of the promises of the fracking revolution that has sharply increased oil and gas production in the United States is that it might help to free this country from the economic ups and downs associated with a volatile world energy market. But a new Council on Foreign Relations Energy Brief, “The Shale Gas and Tight Oil Boom: US States’ Economic Gains and Vulnerabilities,” suggests that promise is over-stated. Even as U.S. reliance on foreign oil has diminished, it is still vulnerable to price shocks that could result from events in the Middle East or elsewhere. Read more »

Transportation: Overhyped “Can-Do” States and P3s

by Rebecca Strauss
A police vehicle escorts visitors through one of two tunnels that will replace a stretch of California's Highway 1 near Pacifica, California on March 25, 2013 (Robert Galbraith/Courtesy Reuters). A police vehicle escorts visitors through one of two tunnels that will replace a stretch of California's Highway 1 near Pacifica, California on March 25, 2013 (Robert Galbraith/Courtesy Reuters).

Advocates for more U.S. transportation spending are accustomed to discouraging news. So it is understandable they would claim a resounding victory when a handful of (small) “can-do” states manage to buck the national trend and raise taxes and revenues dedicated to transportation spending. More private dollars than ever before are being funneled into infrastructure projects, too. But the underlying, fundamental problem remains: the federal government and the vast majority of states are failing to raise enough public funds to pay for upkeep on the nation’s road and highway system, not to mention make new capital investments. Read more »

Policy Initiative Spotlight: NYC Zoning and Competitiveness

by Jonathan Masters
View of Midtown Manhattan from the Empire State Building, New York, NY (Courtesy Flickr). View of Midtown Manhattan from the Empire State Building, New York, NY (Courtesy Flickr).

The debate over skyscrapers and their place in the American city has endured for over a century, and New York City has often led the conversation. In 1913, the Equitable Life Assurance Society unveiled its controversial proposal to build a hulking new corporate headquarters in lower Manhattan after its former Wall Street home—the “city’s first skyscraper”—dramatically burned down. Completed just two years later, the new 1.4 million square foot, 40-story neo-classical colossus blocked the sun like few other man-made structures of its day. Read more »

U.S. Broadband Policy and Competitiveness

by Steven J. Markovich
An internet cable is seen at a server room (Kacper Pempel/Courtesy Reuters). An internet cable is seen at a server room (Kacper Pempel/Courtesy Reuters).

Experts agree that broadband internet is a critical piece of 21st-century infrastructure. The Federal Communications Commission has stated that “broadband is a foundation for economic growth, job creation, global competitiveness and a better way of life.” Read more »