I’m not sure who Paul Ryan expects to be marching down his “Path to Prosperity.” He’s cutting the corporate tax rate, an investment which will earn America about 3 pennies on the dollar; yet he’s slashing the transportation budget by more than 30 percent, despite the fact that infrastructure investments can create $1.57 for every dollar spent and put people who need to work back on the job.
I’ve already mentioned how dangerous it is to ignore our crumbling transportation infrastructure. It’s equally irresponsible to ignore the tremendous potential of infrastructure investment to create jobs.
Fixing roads and bridge and adding bus and rail capacity creates a demand for labor and supplies across a number of industries. You need raw materials like gravel and asphalt; workers to run the machinery; engineers and surveyors. Building hybrid buses and electric trains requires skilled clean-tech labor as well as traditional manufacturing work. In Grand Rapids, Michigan, for example, the 120-year-old American Seating Company rehired 40 laid-off workers and hired 11 more in 2009, thanks to stimulus-funded demand for transit bus seats.
The U.S. Treasury Department says that 90 percent of the jobs created by infrastructure investment are middle-class jobs, and they are concentrated in the industries that have been hardest hit by the economic downturn. The average unemployment rate of those who would be put back to work is 15 percent – that’s one and a half times the national average.
The House Budget Committee says that the benefits of transit investment are overblown? Tell that to the workers at American Seating in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I’m sure they feel differently.