Friday, May 14, 2010


Once in a while I like to watch C-SPAN.  This morning it is broadcasting the Senate floor business and debates.  They are discussing a new act called the National Infrastructure Bank.  I wasn't sure what that meant so I've gotta study it for a little while.  Initially, I'd say the words "national bank" of any kind scare me.

The stated purpose of creating the National Infrastructure Bank is: Current Federal financing methods do not adequately distribute funding based on an infrastructure project’s size, location, cost, usage, or economic benefit to a region or the entire nation.  I agree that this may be true but my goal is to learn how the funds are distributed now and what other alternatives have been introduced.

Infrastructure projects that come under the Bank’s consideration are publicly-owned mass transit systems, housing properties, roads, bridges, drinking water systems, and wastewater systems.  Apparently, they want to model the new bank after the FDIC where the director and board would be nominated by the president and then approved by the Senate. 

The financing package could include direct subsidies, direct loan guarantees, long-term tax-credit general purpose bonds, and long-term tax-credit infrastructure project specific bonds.  The bonds talk reminds me of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.  I'm pretty sure those government entities sunk the American mortgage economy, but maybe I don't have my facts straight.

I'm pretty sure the government is concerned with keeping all of their business transparent and easy for the public to follow.  The Bank is tasked to report annually to Congress on the projects it reviews and finances.  A public database is created to catalog what projects were funded and what financing packages were provided. The Bank is also tasked to report every three years on the economic efficacy and transparency of all current Federal infrastructure financing methods, and how those methods could be improved. After five years, the Government Accountability Office would be tasked with evaluating the Bank’s operations and efficacy.  Sounds like they have their ducks in a row.

I hope this information was as interesting to you as it was to me.  I'd like to add a light-hearted commentary about the number of times a Senator used Anthony Wiener's (D-N.Y.) last name.  Four times = good times on the Senate floor.