Thursday, July 7, 2011

Get Ready For The Construction Industry Unemployment Devastation Act

House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman John Mica will call it the six year highway trust fund reauthorization legislation, but that will be a completely inappropriate title for the bill. Today Mica is expected to introduce a six year reauthorization package that will slash funding for roads, bridges and other infrastructure from past levels down to $230 billion over six years. If Mica’s version of the bill passes the House, it will collide with Senator Barbara Boxer’s expected version, which is predicted to call for funding at the level of $550 billion over six years.

Why am I calling this the “Construction Industry Unemployment Devastation Act?” Here is the arithmetic: Last fall, a panel of 80 experts on American infrastructure, headed by former Secretaries of Transportation Norman Mineta and Sam Skinner, concluded that maintaining U. S. infrastructure and meeting the needs of population growth should require investment of $262 billion each year, or a total of $1.57 trillion over six years. Senator Boxer’s bill is expected to propose about $550 billion over six years, or about 35% of the need. Mica’s bill which should come out today, will call for a mere $230 billion over six years, or just over 14.6% of the need. OUCH!!

Even the modest Boxer proposal would need an infusion of $12 billion, or $2 billion each year, from general federal revenues to make up for declining motor fuel consumption and a resulting shortfall in motor fuel tax revenue.

What this means for employment in the construction industry is that tradesmen who once worked for industry behemoths like Walsh, Bechtel or AMEC Morse Diesel will have to move overseas, or find work on crews remodeling houses, and the tradesmen now working in the home remodeling segment will end up at the unemployment office. It’s not a pretty picture, and the artists are those Republicans in the House who will do everything in their power to destroy any chance the Obama administration has of reviving the American economy before the 2012 elections.