In our history, beginning with President George Washington and Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton, the US has created four National Infrastructure Banks (NIB). Under Presidents Washington, John Quincy Adams, Abraham Lincoln, Herbert Hoover, and Franklin Roosevelt, National Infrastructure Banks built and upgraded infrastructure across the country from roads, damns and bridges to health clinics, schools and the national parks; provided productive work and good pay for thousands if not millions of Americans; increased production and manufacturing capacity nationwide; and created economic vitality.
Known as a “Hamiltonian Bank” or “The American System,” a federal infrastructure bank is a proven way not only to build massive public works projects and put people to work, it is a proven way to jumpstart the economy during or after a major national crisis — like the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, the Great Depression … or the COVID19 pandemic.
When the Rural Electrification Administration (REA) was created, 90% of rural America was living in the dark. The REA, under Roosevelt’s Reconstruction Finance Corporation, electrified rural America and, with that, increased commerce, the standard of living and wealth in those areas. Today, much rural America is “in the dark” when it comes to reliable Internet. The next National Infrastructure Bank could bring broadband to rural America. That is just one example of how big public projects can solve big public problems and create wealth and stability in parts of the country that have lacked resources and investment.
It’s time for a fifth National Infrastructure Bank in the United States. Across the globe, countries are using The American System to build massive nationwide and sometimes international/regional infrastructure projects. We invented this financial system. Why aren’t we using it?