Iowa’s governor is looking to make his mark beyond the state’s borders with a proposal that could be part of a prelude to a race for president. Governor Tom Vilsack went on-line Tuesday night and typed out his idea on a website that showcases Democrat politicians like him. (You can find Vilsack’s written comments at www.tpmcafe.com.)

Vilsack also outlined his idea during an interview with Radio Iowa. “As Congress looks at rebuilding the City of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, I think that they ought to consider a much larger project to rebuild American cities,” Vilsack says. “We’re in a competitive, global economy and our cities have to be prepared for that competition. There’s a lot of infrastructure that needs to be repaired and this will stimulate the economy.”

Vilsack would finance the program through something similar to U.S. Savings Bonds. He’d call them “Patriot Bonds” and Vilsack would encourage Americans, especially kids, to buy the bonds as a way to boost savings in America. Vilsack says he’s concerned that Gulf Coast rebuilding plans will add to the federal budget deficit and force Congress and the President to cut what Vilsack calls “vital” government services. The governor says selling government-backed bonds and raising this new pool of money would give Americans a way to respond to the tragedy of the hurricane in a “patriotic way.”

Vilsack says the idea came to him while he was reading a book. “If you read the book ‘Rising Tide’ which is the story of the 1927 Mississippi (River) flood and Herbert Hoover’s involvement in reconstruction, they thought of innovative and creative ways to rebuild the levees and the dam systems to protect communities,” Vilsack says. “It seems to me that out of a circumstance and a situation like this, the country needs to look for creative solutions, something that we all can sort of focus on and as a national purpose get behind.”

Vilsack says one of the side-benefits would be the boost in the jobs that would come from projects to rebuild the infrastructure of America’s largest cities. Vilsack’s idea sits alongside one from the Democrat’s 2004 vice presidential nominee. John Edwards has suggested establishing a massive, government-financed public works program similar to the W-P-A of the Depression era.