written by John A. Simourian • for Public Policy & Sustainability
With major league spring training just around the corner, many armchair fantasy baseball fanatics are evaluating their favorite players and starting to draft their rosters. But rather than fantasize about who will have the lowest ERA, hit the most homeruns or have the best on-base percentage, let’s think about a different game: America’s economic recovery in 2010 and beyond. The lineup card for this game plan focuses on creating scoring opportunities early and often with job creation, housing, energy, infrastructure, anti-terrorism, education and health care.
All great baseball teams have excellent scouts and extensive scouting reports that identify the key issues required to defeat the opposition. America is blessed with several visionary “scouts,” among them: Rep. James Oberstar (D-MN), Department of Transportation Inspector General Calvin Scovel III and columnist Thomas Friedman. We also have the advantage of information-packed “scouting reports” from organizations like the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, Ernst & Young and the Urban Land Institute. Collectively, these focus on the need to rebuild America’s transportation infrastructure, emphasizing the scope of the project ($750 billion over 5 years) and, most importantly, the millions of direct and indirect jobs that would be created.
Swift and proper execution of this strategy to invest massively in America’s transportation infrastructure in the “early innings” will lay the foundation for a winning game strategy. Job creation, the key that unlocks the plan, will lift incomes which in turn will be used to lift consumption, pay existing mortgages and purchase new homes. This will reduce and eventually eliminate banks’ bad loans and allow them to repair their balance sheets and begin lending to small businesses which will create more jobs.
However, the infrastructure rebuilding must be funded without adding more national debt. And here, in the “middle innings,” we get the key homerun that puts America on the path to certain victory: a 75 cent-per-gallon federal fuel tax increase pegged to the price of oil so when oil goes down the tax goes up and when oil goes up the tax goes down.
This is the turning point in the “game” because it will be used to establish a consistent fixed price for fuel. This will give investors in alternative energy as well as motor vehicles a more stable benchmark for fuel, insulated from OPEC pricing gyrations, against which they can project their profitability which will stimulate investment in nuclear, wind and solar energy and promote competition for fuel efficient motor vehicles. All this activity will create additional jobs.
As investment in improved transportation infrastructure, diversified energy resources and fuel efficient vehicles begins to pay dividends, demand for oil will peak and then decline producing two desirable outcomes: the price of oil will drop which will reduce significantly funds for terrorist activities and the need for cap and trade taxes will be pointless.
This “game plan”, to invest in infrastructure, to create jobs, funded by a fuel tax that will attract investment in alternative energy, will stimulate the economy and rebuild America’s balance sheet so that in the “late innings” the increased tax revenues generated by the stimulated activity will be the “closer” to fixing education and health care.
To transform this “game plan” from fantasy to reality, we need to rise from our comfortable armchairs and demand that our Congressmen lead our country boldly and courageously by putting our country’s needs, not partisan politics, first. With that type of leadership, America will be the “World Series” champion in the 21st century.
John A. Simourian is Chairman of Needham, Mass.-based Lily Transportation Corp., which opened for business in 1958 and today provides dedicated contract carriage systems and services for customers throughout the United States. John also is a lifelong Red Sox fan and fervently believes that the 2010 season will bring another American League pennant and World Series Championship to the Red Sox Nation.
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