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Repair It/Build It/ Expand It

Unrepresentative Policy of the Week: We Need Infrastructure Investment Before the Crisis

When it rains, it pours, in this case, quite literally. Hurricane Ida made landfall near New Orleans, on Sunday, 16 years to the day that hurricane Katrina ravaged the city. This time, it makes landfall, right amidst the peak of the Covid-19 delta variant spreading unchecked across the southern states. As the Governor of Louisiana explained, hospital beds across the region were already at capacity, and there was simply no place to evacuate hospital patients to. It was a confluence of two perfect storms, one viral, on climate.

Thankfully, lessons were learned from 16 years ago, and New Orleans was built back better, at least to some extent. Better construction, especially roofing techniques, have reduced damage to home from the whipping, 150 mph winds. Additionally, despite strong storm surges and flooding, the levees did not burst, proving just how well spent that $50 Billion in infrastructure investment truly was.

As usual in America, however, even when we decide to invest in the public good, it’s always too late, with too narrow a focus, and too small a price tag. While the levees didn’t burst, power has been lost for millions, with no clear date on when the grid will be restored, leaving elderly stranded without AC during the hot New Orleans summer, and even more critically, many hospital patients without access to life saving equipment. Zooming out for a second, what’s incredible, is that this isn’t even the first major city in America to experience major power grid failures. Hopefully we all remember when the Texas power grid collapsed just earlier in the year. These natural disasters are just the beginning, and as the recent past has demonstrated, the next crisis does not way for the last one to be resolved before hitting us.

The key to addressing these crises, from climate to covid, involves making the change from a “me” society to a “we” society. At the government level, this means investing in the public good, most often in the form of infrastructure. At the personal level, it means building solidarity and communities of interpersonal aid. In this moment, despite the dire situation, we miraculously find ourselves with a possible path forward in both of these areas. The dual path infrastructure bill continues to lumber its way through Congress, with some lofty promises, but no final language, and no guarantees on passage, especially in the Senate. Biden and the Dems so far seem to be holding strong, however, and the intransigent Democrats might want to think twice about going against not just their party, but their own voters.

Recent polling in battleground states, shows just how tenuous the position of these conservative democrats truly is:

Do you support or oppose the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act?

Support: 70%

Oppose: 24%

Is it important or non-important that lawmakers in congress make additional [climate related] investments?

Important: 66%

Not Important: 34%

Would you be more or less likely to vote for a candidate for Congress who Opposes the Build Back Better plan?

More likely: 36%

Less likely: 50%

The American people understand, that to face the challenges of today ad tomorrow, we need to pull together and invest in this country. Investment in infrastructure looks towards, and imagines a brighter tomorrow for all of us, especially when coupled with climate conscious spending. The crises of the past few years make this clear, and mother nature will only continue to hammer the point home in the years to come.

It’s good politically, and good economically for the vast majority of the people. It is not, however, good for all of the donors, and there may be the problem. What stands in the way of our federal investment in all of us, are the greedy machinations of the few. To overcome this opposition, and let lawmakers serve both their legacies and the American people, it is going to take economic organizing, the only language the donors understand. So, join us each Tuesday in growing power, as we fight for our democracy and our future!

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