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Modernize America’s Aging Infrastructure: A Homeland Security National Infrastructure Reinvestment Bank

Here is some more information on the idea of a National Infrastructure Reinvestment bank that I wrote about here.

From the White House Agenda on Homeland Security:

"Build-in Security: Ensure that security is considered and built into the design of new infrastructure, so that our critical assets are protected from the start and more resilient to naturally-occurring and deliberate threats throughout their life-cycle.Create a National Infrastructure Reinvestment Bank: Address the infrastructure challenge by creating a National Infrastructure Reinvestment Bank of $60 billion over 10 years, to expand and enhance, not supplant, existing federal transportation investments. This independent entity will be directed to invest in our nation’s most challenging transportation infrastructure needs, without the influence of special interests. Invest in Critical Infrastructure Projects: Invest in our nation’s most pressing short and long-term infrastructure needs, including modernizing our electrical grid and upgrading our highway, rail, ports, water, and aviation infrastructure. Establish a Grid Modernization Commission to facilitate adoption of Smart Grid practices to improve efficiency and security of our electricity grid."

(My bold)

And more here at Homeland Security Digital Library Blog dated February 6, 2009.

And here is one of the best posts on security and infrastructure spending I have read:

"A rising chorus of experts is drawing attention to the fact that the $825 billion stimulus package being debated on Capitol Hill is much lighter on infrastructure investment than originally promised by President Obama prior to taking office. The final House bill has $607 billion in direct spending and appropriations and $212 billion in tax cuts. Of that, only about $90 billion is directed for construction of traditional infrastructure projects — repairs and upgrades for roads, bridges, water treatment systems and flood control. There is roughly $46 billion for the transportation infrastructure subset under which about $30 billion would go for highways and bridges. Another $12 billion is set aside for transit. That equates to 5 percent of the total amount for surface transportation infrastructure. There is also a $142 billion basket for education, which would likely cover some new school construction, as well as billions for weatherizing federal buildings, modernizing the electric grid and alternative energy. But few of those categories represent pure concrete-pouring projects. In fact, public works only comprise about 13 percent of the bill. The rest is for social programs and tax cuts.Obama During the presidential campaign, Obama talked about creating a $60 billion infrastructure bank that would use merit-based criteria to identify worthy projects to fund, but the legislative package does not include such a body. In December, the National Governors Association requested $136 billion for “ready-to-go” infrastructure projects to repair and upgrade highways, ports, railroads, broadband connections and other key systems."

And this is of interest coming from the Council on Foreign Relations recent event on January 27, 2009 titled, Homeland Security In Transition: Rebuilding Critical Infrastructure:

"…But with regard to infrastructure, we’re no longer at a point where building something is unambiguously the highest-return activity across all of these modes. We’re now at a point where we need to manage their use, manage their yield through pricing, through non-structural alternatives, through life-cycle rehabilitation and replacement. And the programs we have, in some sense, are, as Bert Ely called, the savings and loans 30 years ago — policy zombies that are technically dead and yet nonetheless given sustenance by trust funds, the worst-of-all budget practices, and therefore capable of locomoting and preying upon the living. Let me tie this up for now by talking for one moment about the CSIS commission, which I was executive director and which was chaired by Ambassador Rohatyn and Senator Rudman. Its recommendation was to fold together the modal programs, to get rid of the highway trust fund, the airport trust fund, the Corps of Engineers waterway funding program. The Corps of Engineers could still be a contract employee.But the less money you let it allocate, the better off the country will be, and turn all of those funds into a single-financing facility that would take those programs with major federal dollar commitments and negotiate them on a case-by-case basis and allow the federal government either to subsidize directly or through sinking funds or credit subsidies or guarantees or underwritings or what have you, and pick the most appropriate way to lever federal resources."

(my bold)

Then the Progressive Policy Institute (PPI) had this January 15, 2009 post:

"…Public investment is needed, but it is clear that government cannot, and should not, shoulder the burden alone. As it happens, private capital investors are hungry for high-quality investment opportunities after the collapse of mortgage-backed securities and the turbulence in the equity markets.

In response to this market demand, banks and private equity firms have raised funds to invest in major infrastructure projects. According to McKinsey & Company, the world’s 20 largest private infrastructure funds have nearly $130 billion under management, with 77 percent of it raised over the last two years alone.

This represents an enormous opportunity for funding our infrastructure needs. One way to seize that opportunity is to create an American version of the European Investment Bank (EIB), which has a half-century track record of success in financing productivity-enhancing projects.

The EIB was founded under the terms of the 1957 Treaty of Rome as the long-term lending institution of the European Union (EU ). The EIB is owned by the member states of the EU , who make an initial contribution to the bank’s capital-reserve fund according to their relative GD P. Otherwise, the bank is fully self-financing, borrowing on the financial markets to issue loans, and does not take any funds from the EU budget. The EIB operates autonomously, is a non-profit…

A self-financing institution like a new AIB could raise funds for infrastructure investment without raising taxes. In addition, such an entity — if given sufficient autonomy — could evaluate infrastructure projects based on sound economic criteria and not pork-driven local interests."

And the best yet, President Obama’s Stimulus Package alert:

One element that may be incorporated in either short-term or long-term Stimulus provisions is the concept of a National Infrastructure Reinvestment Bank. The key concept of such an approach is not to displaceexisting formula grants for infrastructure but to target large capacity-building projects that are not adequately served by current financing mechanisms. If such a concept moves forward, it will be important for our clients to understand its potential and how to most effectively utilize this to deliver their projects.Obama Administration Support President-elect Barack Obama and his team have stated their belief that it is critically important for the United States to rebuild its national transportation infrastructure – its highways, bridges, roads, ports, air,and train systems – to strengthen user safety, bolster our long-term competitiveness and ensure our economy continues to grow. One concept they have supported as part of a larger infrastructure package is a National Infrastructure Reinvestment Bank (NIRB) designed to expand and enhance, not supplant, existing federal transportation investments. The NIRB would be an independent entity directed to invest in the nation’s most challenging transportation infrastructure needs."

I do not think this is a question of "if" a National Infrastructure Reinvestment Bank will happen but a question of "when". Finally, is the word "secure" within the Senate Stimulus Bill under the Homeland Security section, the opaque wording that forms the basis of Obama moving forward on an infrastructure investment bank? I need help from greater minds to weigh-in on this…

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