With all this talk of austerity, one key aspect of our recovery is lost in the noise. Where is the discussion of growth? How will Washington help the American economy prosper in the 21st century? We might be able to cut our way to lower deficits, but we cannot cut our way to more economic growth. What better way to increase revenues, than through growth inspired policies? The faster the economy develops, the quicker a solution to our debt will emerge.
Like it or not, the government plays an instrumental role in steering the economy. It is time to move beyond the ideology of how we would like our government to be and accept the reality of what government is. Washington has played an important role in the economy for generations. President Eisenhower, a Republican, invested in America's infrastructure and helped build the interstate highway system — which revolutionized interstate commerce. The Apollo program provided advances in technologies ranging from kidney dialysis, to semi-conductors, to athletic shoes. Recall that the Military played an instrumental role in developing the internet — in turn; the technology brought us Google, Facebook and helped propel the Arab Spring.
Imagine what our economy would look like today if the government spent billions on research and development, education, and infrastructure rather than bailing out big banks. What we need today is a smarter government that invests its limited funds efficiently; not a smaller government that you can "drown in a bathtub."
Investment in infrastructure creates more "bang for our buck" than almost any other type of government spending. A study from the San Francisco Federal Reserve found that, on average, each dollar of infrastructure spending increased state GDP by at least $2 dollars. That is more than a 100% return on investment.
As President Obama stated in the late State of the Union, Americans continue to drive over more than 60,000 structurally deficient bridges everyday. The lack of investment in infrastructure left us in a crisis. In 2002, American infrastructure ranked 5th globally; by 2012 we were 25th, behind countries like Saudi Arabia, Barbados, and Spain to name a few. The American Society of Civil Engineers claims that without investing an additional $157 billion per year in infrastructure, the United States will lose over 3 million jobs and trillions of dollars in GDP by 2020 (and we thought the $85 billion sequester was bad!).
The United States must close our infrastructure gap to stay competitive. Today, China has over 20,000 km of high-speed rail; compared to our one track. The port of Shanghai, handles more containers than the eight largest U.S. ports combined. Sitting back and allowing our nation to fall further behind should not be an option.
We can choose to elect representatives who will maintain the status quo; who will not reform the entitlement spending that is bankrupting our nation. Or we can elect individuals that will make the necessary investments for our country to succeed. For the first time, this past election, more millennials (18-35) voted than senior citizens. As a generation, we must find our voice and make it heard in Washington. We must get out and demand bipartisan solutions to our nations problems and investments in our future!
Chad is a blogger for TheCanKicksBack, a non-partisan, Millennial driven campaign to fix the national debt and reclaim the American Dream.