This week’s bold warning on infrastructure comes weighted with the sort of price tag that seems abstract to many taxpayers in a nation where a financial bailout costs $500 billion, a war is $113 billion a year, the annual deficit runs to $1 trillion and recent spending cuts amount to $110 billion.
The cost of deficit reduction became real when people got their first paycheck this year and realized the payroll tax holiday was over. But experts said the reality of a failure to invest $1.1 trillion more in infrastructure by 2020 will creep up on them.
“Infrastructure is the most important thing you never think about,” said Jim Hoecker, former chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. “Infrastructure is a collection of critically important strategic assets, and we generally take them for granted.”
If the problem is not addressed, power outages will become more frequent, prices at the supermarket and department store will inch up, traffic will detour around bad bridges, household incomes will drop and millions of people will lose their jobs.