Voters looking for leadership, action to rebuild infrastructure

July 2011, Vol. 66 No. 7

In a meeting held in May with Senators at the U.S. Capitol, Dennis Slater, president of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), called on Congress to address the urgent need to rebuild America’s infrastructure and to actively pursue innovative funding approaches to finance this critical investment without increasing the deficit.

The meeting was hosted by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senator Mark Begich and attended by 14 other Senators including Majority Whip Dick Durbin and Senator Barbara Boxer, Chair of the Committee on Environment and Public Works. Reid and Begich organized the meeting as an opportunity for Senators and leaders from business, labor and state government to strategize about how best to work together to advance comprehensive infrastructure investment legislation in Congress this year.

AEM is a leader and supporter of policies that create manufacturing jobs and Slater, representing AEM's I Make America campaign, was the only leader from the manufacturing community to speak at the meeting. I Make America is AEM’s national grassroots campaign to promote U.S. manufacturing jobs through infrastructure investment and passage of export agreements.

“We need Democrats and Republicans alike to stand up and recognize that investing in America’s crumbling infrastructure is a national imperative – critical to job creation, global competitiveness and our economic security and prosperity, now and well into the future,” said Slater.

“The opinion research we’ve conducted shows not only that voters nationwide overwhelmingly agree (83 percent) that modernizing and rebuilding infrastructure is both a safety and a jobs issue, but that we need to be thinking ‘outside the box’ with innovative, new funding approaches to make this critical investment without increasing the national deficit,” said Slater.

“Surprisingly, 60 percent of voters would even support a one-cent national sales tax for infrastructure that would expire in five years. What this tells us is that voters believe there is an urgent need to rebuild our infrastructure, and they are looking for leadership and action to get it done,” he affirmed.

Slater also noted that during this recession, one of the main reasons why AEM’s member companies were able to weather the economic downturn was the demand for their products overseas – export markets – and that these opportunities will be threatened if the condition of our transportation infrastructure hampers U.S. manufacturers’ ability to get their products to market quickly, efficiently and cost-effectively.