A Washington, D.C. think tank is encouraging Iowa Democrats to pepper the presidential candidates who’ll start campaigning here with questions about how to improve the nation’s critical infrastructure. Will Marshall, president of the Progressive Policy Institute, says his think tank was a bit of an “idea mill” for President Bill Clinton, but it’s hard to have a conversations about ideas in Washington, D.C. these days.
“There’s something of kind of a policy amnesia in Washington now,” Marshall says. “The Republicans have been in control of the national government until this election and they have completely lost sight of something that every economist since Adam Smith has understood and that is that the market doesn’t supply a lot of the things that an economy needs to be successful.”
Marshall says government must invest in things that make the economy grow, like schools, roads and scientific research.
“The public’s getting concerned about what they’re seeing the total abandonment of fiscal responsbility in Washington and the consequences of our ability, as a nation, to invest in our future,” Marshall says.
Marshall hosted a forum in Iowa earlier this week and invited two Democrats who held statewide office to address the subject. Former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack suggested the nation’s public infrastructure is a national security issue.
“As we begin the Caucus process here in Iowa, it’s an opportunity for all of us who will be engaged in thiat process to press our candidates, those who want to be the next president, where they stand on this issue of public investment,” Vilsack said.
Patty Judge of Albia served two terms as Iowa’s secretary of agriculture and one term as lieutenant governor. She told the crowd public investment brought electricity to rural America and it’s needed again to ensure rural parts of our country don’t fall further behind.
“If we are serious about economic development, we have got to have the way to move information and goods and services quickly,” Judge said. “That means broadband internet hook-up in every corner of the state. That means good roads. That means infrastructure.”
The president of the Progressive Policy Institute said Iowans in the “battleground zone of American politics” have a chance to get presidential candidates to embrace “radically practical” ideas for improving the country’s infrastructure.