Rebuild America

Last week, President Obama visited Florida to make a push for his various infrastructure proposals.

“There are few more important things we can do to create jobs right now and strengthen our economy over the long haul by rebuilding our infrastructure that powers our businesses and our economy,” Obama said, surrounded by blue shipping containers. “This should not be a partisan idea.”

We agree. Investing in 21st century infrastructure is good for entrepreneurs, good for cities and metro areas, and good for job creation. Moreover, modernizing the networks that drive the American economy will help our business and workers to compete in the global economy. Smart government can be used as a catalyst to convene stakeholders and leverage private investment in a time of constrained budgets.

Particularly notable in the President’s remarks is the announcement of the Rebuild America Partnership.

The main pillars of the Rebuild America Partnership are:

-funding a national infrastructure bank

-giving localities access to America Fast Forward bonds to help finance infrastructure

-building local infrastructure by enhancing private investment opportunities via an enhanced Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) program

The key element of this plan is partnership. Cities and states know that the federal government isn’t in position to swoop in and save the day on financing, but in exchange, localities are given a little more leeway with the money that they receive. The TIFIA program hasn’t been perfect to date (it tends to fund toll roads, not transit), but that doesn’t mean we should give up on a promising model for financing major infrastructure projects in the near future.

More voices are joining the call for investment in infrastructure (and energy and job skills). We can’t wait any longer. It’s time for action on infrastructure.

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Tom Kalil, Deputy Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy discusses the power of mHealth at a Vodafone Foundation / UN Foundation / New Policy Institute reception unveiling a new report, "mHealth for Development.

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