Rep. Conyers: Infrastructure and Jobs Deficits 'Demand Immediate Attention'

Monday, 04 Aug 2014 10:44 AM

By Dan Weil

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While much focus has centered on the fact that the budget deficit has shrunk to 3 percent of GDP from almost 10 percent in 2009, problems remain, says Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich.

"There are, in fact, deficits that demand America's immediate attention: consider our infrastructure deficit and our jobs deficit," he writes in an article for The Huffington Post.

As for infrastructure, the American Society of Civil Engineers calculates that we need to invest $2.7 trillion in roads, bridges, water and sewage systems, electrical grids and ports by 2020, Conyers notes.

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"But there's only an estimated $1.6 trillion in public and private financing projected to be available over that period."

Meanwhile, the jobs gap, "America's most serious deficit," totals more than 6.8 million, Conyers says. The Brookings Institution estimates it will take that many jobs just to bring us back to pre-recession employment levels when accounting for new entrants into the labor force.

"Even according to optimistic projections, it would take us until 2018 to close this gap," Conyers writes.

"It's time for Congress to get serious about infrastructure and jobs — the deficits that really matter to the American people."

Economist Laurence Kotlikoff of Boston University is worried about the overall budget deficit.

Based on the Congressional Budget Office's projection of what will happen without major policy changes, Kotlikoff calculates that the "fiscal gap," a measurement of government debt, totaled $210 trillion last year.

That put the true budget deficit at $5 trillion, compared with the official total of $680 billion, he writes in The New York Times.

"The fiscal gap — the difference between our government's projected financial obligations and the present value of all projected future tax and other receipts — is, effectively, our nation's credit card bill," Kotlikoff writes.

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