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Rebuilding Our Infrastructure for the 21st Century

Connie M. Razza

Today progressive Democrats released a framework for job creation and infrastructure investment that will prepare the United States to thrive in the 21st century. Plans under this framework will create millions of jobs rebuilding decaying water systems, schools, bridges, and highways; transitioning the nation thoughtfully to a clean-energy future; and increasing access to opportunity by making high-speed broadband internet networks available to all, expanding our overburdened rail system, and modernizing our airports, ports, and waterways. And they will prioritize investments that increase racial and gender equity, environmental justice and resiliency, and shared economic prosperity.

As you’ve seen in posts by Algernon Austin on this blog—on climate change, on water infrastructure, on schools and parks, and in general—well-designed infrastructure investments lay crucial foundations for increased racial equity. As Algernon has written:

Historically, communities of color have received less and lower quality infrastructure than predominantly white communities. Communities of color have literally been the dumping ground for the consequences of bad infrastructure decisions. Communities of color are more likely to be exposed to hazardous waste, toxic emissions, and noxious materials. It was also these communities that were divided and destroyed to make way for highways leading to white suburbs.

The call for major infrastructure investments means that we can repair our infrastructure and make a significant advance for racial equity at the same time. We can break from our past practices of under-investment and under-development for communities of color, and repair and construct infrastructure with racial equity in mind.

The principles laid out today will create 21st-century infrastructure through direct investments in living-wage jobs for struggling communities, women, and people of color. Our nation’s infrastructure is made up of the things we all need, have all contributed to, and all own together, and these principles ensure that the investments meet community needs and remain under public control.

By contrast, President Trump has outlined a massive giveaway to Wall Street executives and his corporate friends to build the kinds of projects that will profit them, regardless of the needs of communities. His plan won’t create jobs in communities that need them the most. Not only would Trump give $1 trillion to his friends, he would sign over future rights to our roads, bridges, broadband...anything Wall Street billionaires, his corporate cronies, and even foreign governments think will profit them. They’ll be able to gouge us at will, raising fees on basic necessities. Worse, Trump's scam would remove our democratic say over the very things on which we all most rely. That's a bad deal.