Its loans would reduce the risk faced by private investors wanting to put money into ambitious infrastructure projects, thereby ensuring that private money would be available. "The infrastructure bank," writes Hindery's task force, "should be an independent financial institution owned by the government, rather than an arm of an existing agency. Able to fund a broad range of infrastructure projects beyond roads, rails and runways, it could make loans and loan guarantees and leverage private capital."
Hindery tells ABC News he thinks such a bank affords the single best opportunity now to create lots of private sector jobs. "Each $1 billion such a bank might lend could create 40,000 jobs," he says. With "fully $3 trillion worth" of U.S. infrastructure right now needing attention, many billions might be raised and loaned, many hundreds of thousands of jobs created.
The Alliance for American Manufacturing, which has put forward its own list of job-creation ideas, also likes the bank. AAM director Scott Paul calls the idea "a proven concept in some European countries," Germany, for example.
The Congressional Progressive Caucus, whose prescription for job creation and economic recovery is called the "People's Budget," likes the bank idea; but, recognizing the possibility that money could diverted to pork barrel projects, it recommends a transparent project approval process that would guarantee that only projects with the "biggest value to taxpayers and our economy" would get approved.
Others of the Task Force's ideas include:
-Requiring bidders for government contracts (and applicants for government grants, assistance or awards) to file an Employment Impact Statement, which would show how many jobs would be gained or lost by the awarding of the contract.
-Implementation of a "Buy Domestic" procurement requirement. No single measure, thinks the Task Force, would do more to help resuscitate U.S. manufacturing. Consistent with international trade agreements, "All infrastructure projects funded and guaranteed by the federal government" (and by the proposed Infrastructure Bank), would require that that materials and components used be made in America.
-Enacting temporary tariffs, which are permitted under World Trade Organization rules when a large trade deficit exists and when industries are under threat. Congress should enact such tariffs, thinks the Task Force, "to protect our high-value manufacturing" from being undercut any further state-subsidized Chinese goods.
While Hindery holds out hope that these and other new job-creation ideas can be implemented after the next election, the short term, he says, has left him "as sad as I've ever been." Reason? Neither the administration nor the Tea Party, he says, neither the Republicans nor the Democrats, "has any appetite right now for anything that would create jobs." All he sees, he says, is "rhetoric on one side and obduracy on the other."
During the fight over raising the debt ceiling, he says, "There was not one conversation" about what effect passing or not passing the debt ceiling extension would have on jobs. By his estimate, final bill will result in the loss of 1.8 million government jobs over the next 2 to 3 years. The loss of private sector jobs he puts at 600,000 to 700,000, coming mostly from the defense industry.