The recently passed infrastructure bill is great news for the long-term productivity of American workers and wage growth for them. We looked at the transportation investments in the bill in part of this series and here we take a look at the rest of the elements in the bill. Needless to say, this is a great step forward and will rectify much of what has been ignored or been underinvested in.
The bill would spend $7.5 billion for electric vehicle charging stations, which the administration says are critical to accelerating the use of electric vehicles to curb climate change. It would also provide $5 billion for the purchase of electric school buses and hybrids, reducing reliance on school buses that run on diesel fuel.
The legislation’s $65 billion for broadband access would aim to improve internet services for rural areas, low-income families and tribal communities. Most of the money would be made available through grants to states.
Modernizing the electric grid
To protect against the power outages that have become more frequent in recent years, the bill would spend $65 billion to improve the reliability and resiliency of the power grid. It would also boost carbon capture technologies and more environmentally friendly electricity sources like clean hydrogen.
Water and wastewater
The legislation would spend $55 billion on water and wastewater infrastructure. It has $15 billion to replace lead pipes and $10 billion to address water contamination from polyfluoroalkyl substances — chemicals that were used in the production of Teflon and have also been used in firefighting foam, water-repellent clothing and many other items.
One key question is if this is enough? or, perhaps too much? From my perspective, you can’t spend too much on improving the infrastructure of the country. However, you can waste a lot of money trying to improve the infrastructure. The graph in my last post that showed how the cost of building or repairing roads in America has shot way up and is out of step with other OECD countries. This can cut into how much infrastructure this money can buy for us. It is my hope that the administration executes this bill in a very judicious manner that minimizes profiteering off of the taxpayers’ money and a well-intentioned bill.
Regardless, this investment is a great idea. The fact is that the previous investments in US infrastructure that build the railway system or the highway system were probably not spent perfectly and a good chunk of those expenditures probably went to waste, fraud, and abuse. However, it’s undeniable that those investments were great for the country’s growth in the last century and necessary to support a growing and dynamic economy. So, let’s make sure every dollar is spent wisely but not investing because there will be some waste makes no sense!!