In an opinion piece posted to Bloomberg.com, the media company’s founder and namesake, Mike Bloomberg, called for a vast, nation-wide infrastructure investment as a way to instill confidence in the economy, and to enact much-needed improvement to the country’s roads, tunnels, and energy grids that will put people back to work long after the coronavirus pandemic is over.
Referencing Franklin Roosevelt’s bold public infrastructure remedy to the Great Depression, Bloomberg argued that the emergency relief package that’s passing through Congress this week is a good short-term assist to the millions placed out of work by coronavirus, but that a long-term investment in our economy is the only way to ward off a permanent lapse in confidence in the American market once the disease is gone.
“In the months ahead, when the public-health emergency slows and hopefully passes, one of the fundamental obstacles to restoring economic growth will be public uncertainty,” the former New York mayor and one-time presidential candidate wrote. “Consumers will not resume spending, businesses will not rehire workers, and investors will not leave safe havens until they are confident that we are on the road to recovery.”
Bloomberg went on to demand “swift action” from Washington that would give “both markets and main-street businesses something positive to look forward to,” and argued that the best investment that the government can make is in our nation’s infrastructure. “I know from my time as mayor of New York that public investment in infrastructure is a highly effective way to increase private-sector investment and business activity—and inspire confidence in the future.”
He further argues that it is long past-due for a revolutionary infrastructure package that could build the modern, clean-energy economy required in the face of a climate crisis that will continue even after coronavirus dies out. “The bill should include major new investments in wind and solar power, a national transmission grid, energy efficiency for buildings, and the electric-vehicle manufacturing industry, which will benefit U.S. automakers,” Bloomberg wrote, adding that such an bold economic plan would create millions of jobs, particularly for Americans who lose work in the oil, gas, and coal industries.
The coronavirus crisis, and the ensuing social distance orders that have caused the great bulk of Americans to avoid socializing and to work from home, has already exposed the vulnerabilities of our existing infrastructure. As more homebound individuals have meals and groceries delivered, and as Amazon and the US Postal Service double-down their efforts to deliver necessities, repairs that have been necessary to our crumbling roads, bridges, and tunnels for years are now on full display. Moreover, with out-of-school students and working-from-home adults relying on the internet to stay connected, the strength of our national broadband system, and the tens of millions of Americans who still lack access to broadband internet, has become a visibly dire issue.
In the face of the worst unemployment crisis in the nation’s history, Franklin Roosevelt famously put Americans back to work while also addressing the needs of modernization. Roosevelt’s New Deal expanded access to electricity, connected communities with modern bridges and roads, and constructed hospitals, schools, and airports across the nation. All the while it instilled in Americans a sense of pride and fraternity as they worked together to make an even better United States than the one that preceded the Great Depression.
While conceding that there is no cure-all for the newest threat our economy faces, Bloomberg insists that the need for a response is urgent. “If Congress passes a major infrastructure and clean-energy bill before the April recess,” he writes, “shovels can start hitting the ground when workers, businesses and investors are looking for signs of hope, indications of growth, and reasons to believe that the worst has passed. And while it can take years to complete a project, the act of investment — and putting people to work — sends exactly the kind of signal to the marketplace that our country will need.”