Achieving this goal requires user fees that generate realistic levels of cash flow to rebuild and maintain our infrastructure in a manner that is both attractive for investors and fair to consumers; here we need look no further than the model America has so successfully developed and followed for many generations in the transportation of natural gas.
America leads the world in this sector with a network of more than 300,000 miles of regulated interstate natural gas pipelines — two-thirds of which is privately owned. Think of these vital pipelines as toll roads paid for by every American household and business that uses natural gas. The tolls that virtually all Americans pay for our natural gas toll roads as part of our monthly gas bill are transparent, fair and well-regulated and have been for decades.
So just as we do in our vital natural gas sector, let’s stop subsidizing our infrastructure and start investing in it. Successfully creating broad-based, economic revenue streams in infrastructure through appropriate user fees, coupled with transparent rate-setting mechanisms that are above politics, will source the long-term and stable new investment capital (principally from the private sector) that can rebuild America’s infrastructure — not just roads, but seaports, airports, power transmission and more — and create the millions of quality jobs we need so critically to get America moving once again.
Let’s break our addiction to subsidies and tax breaks from Uncle Sam and get to work investing in our infrastructure in a way that works for all of us. This must happen, and it can happen right now through bold vision and bipartisan leadership. This is the same vision and leadership that created the transcontinental railroads, gave us the interstate highway system and put us on the moon.
Mr. President and Mr. Speaker, this is a bipartisan issue. Americans want to go back to work and regain our global economic leadership. Please bury the partisan rhetoric and make job creation, through productively investing in America’s infrastructure, job one.
Christopher Lee is the founder and managing partner of Highstar Capital, an infrastructure investment firm. He is chairman of Ports America Chesapeake. Sean Medcalf is an investment professional with Highstar Capital.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.