In June 2006, a draft bill was issued by the LaRouche Political Action Committee (LPAC), outlining the urgent intervention needed from the Federal government, to save the industrial capacity embodied in the U.S. auto/machine-tool sector, being taken down by globalization. On Jan. 23, 2007, it was presented to a hearing on the "State of the Economy," held by the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee. But no Federal action was taken, and over a 72-month period, almost the entire U.S. auto industrial sector has been dismembered.
Given the scale of the collapse of infrastructure, as shown by the Twin Cities bridge, on top of the Katrina wreckage, the question is now more urgent than ever: How can the means be found for the mission of rebuilding?
The following is presented as a summary Table of Organization, for how to proceed.
I. National Infrastructure Bank
At the top of the entire effort must be a Federal credit mechanism, shown on the schematic here as the National Infrastructure Bank. This facility can be established under the powers of Congress, authorizing it to create debt for the sole purpose of funding approved infrastructure projectsthe direct costs, the inputs, and all functions related to accomplishing the job. Thus it operates as a capital source, outside the demands and constraints of the Federal operating budget. Loans can be made at the rate of 1-2% interest, and the appropriate long-term conditions will apply.
There are many precedents for this kind of long-term, low-interest credit function, on the part of the Federal government. In the early decades of the United States, there were the canal projects and other infrastructure development. During the FDR years, a massive amount of hard infrastructurebridges, schools, water systems, and the likewas built this way, many of which facilities we still use today.
II. Economic Recovery Act
On the next tier, comes the function of directing the effort and funding for restoring the industrial and infrastructure-building capacity of the nation. As originally laid out, the Economic Recovery Act of 2006 focussed on stopping the takedown of the auto/machine-tool sector, by creating a Federal public corporation to assume control of, and operatedirectly, or by contractthe discarded and unused plant-and-equipment capacity of the automobile/auto-supply sector. The entity was called the Federal Infrastructure Plants Corporation, and would also utilize unused facilities in other sectors such as military bases, shipyards, fabricating plants, and so on. In turn, this capacity could be retooled to produce, along with remaining corporate manufacturing, the array of components necessary to refurbish decaying infrastructure: bridge trusses, flood gates, lock valves, and all the rest, simple or complicated. Among the precedents, is the famous period of World War II, when auto plants were converted to tank, truck, and aircraft assembly lines.
Now today, the task of rescuing and regrouping what remains of the pillaged auto sector is vastly harder than it would have been just two years ago. But the principle still stands and can work today as it did in the Second World War. At that time, the Defense Plants Corporation, created under the Reconstruction Finance Corporation in 1940, leased and commissioned industrial capacity with spectacular success.
The heart of making it succeed, is the re-enlistment of the dispersed labor force of the former industrial belt. From western New York State, through to St. Louis, there are the skilled machine-tool and shop-floor workers, design experts, engineers and others, whose expertise is invaluable. They can confer on the specifics of how to gear up to re-industrializewhat can be made where, how, and by what machines, etc. Over the past five years, these families have been dislocated, either under-employed in their home towns, or forced out of state to seek a livelihood. A stream of people from Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and other industrial states, have relocated into suburban Washington, D.C., because their home counties have all but closed down.
They need to be able to "go home," and rebuild the nation. The second tier of the Economic Recovery diagram illustrates that if the programs for upgrading energy transmission and generation, especially nuclear power, bridges, highways, and railroads were built, along with waterworks, and so-called soft infrastructure, including schools and hospitals, there would be both a pattern of restored activity in the counties where the projects were underway, plus there would be a massive demand in the newly revived manufacturing counties.
A pattern of "re-population" would be evident, as the outflow would stop from hundreds of rural counties, as well as depressed urban areas.
III. Legislative Initiatives
The third tier of this recovery picture involves carrying out the various Federal, state and local projects qualified as part of the recovery effort. The schematic illustrates the combined effect this infrastructure drive will have on reviving various productive sectors, from machine tools, to agriculture, to manufacturing capacity.
There are several bills and measures before Congress, which meet the requirement. There are also thousands of "ready-to-go" projects at the state and municipal level.
The following are indicative.
Rebuilding America's Infrastructure Act of 2007. H.R. 3400. Introduced Aug. 3, 2007, by Ohio Reps. Dennis Kucinich (D) and Steven LaTourette (R). Introduced into the past three sessions of Congress, this bill would create a low-cost Federal financing mechanism to administer zero-interest loans to localities and states. The bill is to "improve critical infrastructure in Ohio and nationwide," such as bridges, dams, levees, water treatment, and other vital facilities.
The United States National Health Insurance Act, or the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act. H.R. 676, sponsored by Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), was introduced Jan. 24, 2007, and now has 76 co-sponsors. It mandates for health care for all. It calls for a "Capital Expenditures Budget," to construct or renovate health facilities, and for major equipment acquisition. Under a National Board of Universal Quality and Access, state directors will provide to the Board a health-care needs assessment, including oversight and placement of facilities, new hospitals and new health-care equipment.
The National Infrastructure Corps Act of 2006 H.R. 6181 of the 109th Congress, Second Session. Sponsored by Reps. William Lacy Clay (D-Mo.) and Major R. Owens (D-N.Y.), the measure expands such existing programs as the National Civilian Youth Corps, Urban Youth Corps and others, on the model of the 1930s Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) to provide employment for the jobless "to repair and replace obsolescent and broken-down infrastructure."
Water Resources Development Act of 2007 (WRDA). H.R. 1495 was passed in the House of Representatives on Aug. 2 by a resounding vote of 381 to 40, the first such measure since 2000. This bill authorizes $21 billion for over 800 water resources projects or studies, to be undertaken by the Army Corps of Engineers. Among them, is the refurbishing of long-outmoded locks and dams on the Upper Mississippi-Illinois Rivers.
Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2007 (S. 294). Its lead sponsors are Sens. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and Trent Lott (R-Miss.), and in May 2007, the bill, after unanimous passage in committee, went to debate in the full Senate. The measure would start to build back Amtrak passenger rail service. The bill provides $12 billion in dedicated Federal support, over six years, for Amtrak's operations ($3.3 billion), capital investments ($6.3 billion), and for its debt and interest payments ($2.4 billion). Another key provision provides $7.8 billion in capital grants to states for development of rail corridors over six years.