by Stephen E. Sandherr
ARLINGTON, VA – We greet the President’s new infrastructure proposal with mixed emotions. On one hand, the President is right to focus on rebuilding a broad range of aging and overburdened infrastructure and modernizing buildings. These investments will create a significant number of new construction career opportunities that traditionally pay well above jobs in other industries. Unfortunately, the President seeks to saddle these new investments with a host of labor and regulatory measures that will hurt workers and offset many of the economic benefits of these new infrastructure investments.
For example, by seeking to couple his new infrastructure proposal with the dangerous PRO Act, the President is signaling that infrastructure investments must come at the expense of labor harmony and economic certainty. That is because the PRO Act will give organized labor unprecedented abilities to disrupt all manner of economic activities, at any time, to meet their broader objectives. His justification for seeking to impose the labor measures in this proposal, that construction workers have been traditionally underpaid, is clearly wrong as even a cursory check of data tracked by the Bureau of Labor Statistics would have confirmed.
The President’s proposal to finance new investments primarily via an increase in the corporate tax rate will likely undermine many of its economic benefits. That is because these new tax hikes will limit the ability of many employers to invest in capital improvement that will provide additional career opportunities for construction workers. Tax hikes will also undermine firms’ ability to invest in new equipment and technology and will limit America’s global competitiveness.
The most important aspect of the President’s proposal is that it once again serves as a reminder that we need to boost investments in our infrastructure. Our expectation is this proposal will prompt an important debate about the best way to make, and fund, those investments in a way that fully supports economic growth. We look forward to working with members of Congress in both parties to craft a bipartisan infrastructure proposal that will do as much to boost economic growth as it does to improve civil works and make our structures more efficient.
Stephen E. Sandherr is CEO of the Associated General Contractors of America, Arlington, Va.