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Eric Alterman Headshot

Think Again: Collapsing Infrastructure? Who Knew?

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Though it somehow felt all but forgotten by Thursday, this past Monday morning, designated beltway oracle Mike Allen informed the wired political world that the idea "driving the day" would be President Barack Obama's 10:50 a.m. Rose Garden statement on infrastructure investment, designed "to build support for the $50 billion 'roads, railways and runways' proposal he unveiled on Labor Day."

Joining the president were Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood; a bevy of mayors; Norman Mineta, a Democrat and George W. Bush's transportation secretary; and Samuel Skinner, a Republican and George H.W. Bush's transportation secretary. The president discussed a new report on infrastructure investment from the Department of the Treasury with the Council of Economic Advisers. The report finds that 80 percent of the jobs directly created by investing in transportation infrastructure would be in the construction, manufacturing, and retail trade sectors. It also finds that infrastructure investments have high bang for the buck because construction costs are low due to underutilized resources.

It should surprise no one to see that most in the mainstream media saw fit to treat the issue as an almost purely political skirmish -- cast exclusively in the narrative over the election-year fight over jobs. And the politicians played along.

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