How Trump could rebuild America
opposition to the private ownership of public assets and, mainly, i mpediments to matching private capital with infrastructure opportunities. While 37 states have some form of enabling legislation and regulatory framework for infrastructure PPPs, there are wide disparities among states. Moreover, many states and localities lack the capacity to evaluate the costs and benefits of PPPs – a problem that President Barack Obama proposed solving with a new federal PPP knowledge centre.
Ultimately, restoring America’s failing infrastructure will require what we call “progressive federalism”: harnessing the strengths of each level of government and working with the private sector to address pressing social and economic challenges.
The federal government must promote national-level goals; i mpose tough criteria for project selection and rigorous performance metrics in construction and maintenance; and push state and local governments to eliminate bureaucratic red tape and costly internecine squabbles. From a financial perspective, it should provide adequate funding for projects of national and regional significance, and use its financial leverage to overcome obstacles and enforce best practices.
State governors and city mayors, for their part, must take the lead in setting state and local priorities, with each deciding whether to opt into national projects. And private investors can provide risk capital, innovation, and management expertise, both as contractors on publicly funded projects and as partners in revenue-generating projects.
To support such a process, we urge Congress to establish a “Commission on Twenty-First-Century Infrastructure,” cochaired by teams from the National Governors Association (perhaps led by Republican Governor John Kasich of Ohio) and the Conference of Mayors (perhaps led by Democratic Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles). The Commission should include business leaders and cabinet-level representatives of the Trump administration, like Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao and National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn. At a time when Americans seem to agree on little else, almost everyone agrees that it is time to rebuild the country’s infrastructure. The task now is to turn consensus into action.