Factsheets

Hillary Clinton’s Infrastructure Plan: Building Tomorrow’s Economy Today

In America, we build great things together. President Lincoln’s transcontinental railroad fueled the growth of a nation and a continent. President Eisenhower’s interstate highway system drove the rise of the strongest middle class in history. President Roosevelt helped to build the Hoover Dam and power the rise of the American Southwest. For nearly two centuries, our great public works have transformed the American landscape and opened up new markets. They have connected Americans to jobs, to schools, and to one another. They have paved the way to U.S. prosperity—sometimes literally. 

Today, however, we are dramatically underinvesting in our future. As a share of the economy, federal infrastructure investment is roughly half of what it was thirty-five years ago. Estimates of the size of our “infrastructure gap” register in the trillions of dollars. Workers can’t get to work, congestion keeps parents stuck in traffic, floods threaten our cities, and airports leave travelers stranded for hours or even days at a time. Our small businesses, farmers, and manufacturers face highways, waterways, ports, and airports that make it harder for them to get their products to customers. Meanwhile, countries like China are racing ahead, building projects that will drive commerce and growth in the 21st century.  

American workers and businesses are the engines of a dynamic, entrepreneurial, and growing economy—an economy that supports good jobs with high wages. But by failing to invest in our infrastructure, we are forcing these engines of growth and job-creation to run on second-rate fuel. 

That’s why Hillary Clinton is announcing a five-year $275 billion dollar infrastructure plan.

Clinton would increase federal infrastructure funding by $275 billion over a five-year period, fully paying for these investments through business tax reform. Of these funds, she would allocate $250 billion to direct public investment. She would allocate the other $25 billion to a national infrastructure bank, dedicated to advancing our competitive advantage for the 21st century economy. The bank would leverage its $25 billion in funds to support up to an additional $225 billion in direct loans, loan guarantees, and other forms of credit enhancement—meaning that Clinton’s infrastructure plan would in total result in up to $500 billion in federally supported investment. The bank would also administer part of a renewed and expanded Build American Bonds program, and would look for opportunities to work with partners in the private sector to get the best possible outcomes for the American people. 

Clinton’s plan would create good-paying jobs today and drive up wages in the future.

According to the White House Council of Economic Advisers, every $1 billion in infrastructure investment creates 13,000 jobs.  Moreover, the vast majority of the jobs created by infrastructure investment are good-paying, middle-class jobs — paying above the national median. And beyond creating good-paying jobs today, infrastructure investments promise to enhance the productivity of the American economy tomorrowhelping to boost the incomes of working Americans in the future. Every dollar of infrastructure investment leads to an estimated $1.60 increase in GDP the following year and twice that over the subsequent 20 years.  

Clinton’s plan would build a 21st century backbone for a thriving 21st century economy —maintaining America’s position as the economic superpower of the future.

Investing in our infrastructure is about so much more than creating good-paying jobs: it’s about maintaining our status as the world’s economic superpower. That means making smart investments in ports, airports, roads, and waterways to address the key chokepoints for the movement of goods in our economy—connecting businesses and farmers to their suppliers and customers and enhancing U.S. competitiveness in the global economy. It means giving allAmerican households access to world-class broadband and creating connected “smart cities” with infrastructure that’s part of tomorrow’s Internet of Things. It means building airports and air traffic control systems that set the world standard for efficiency, reliability, and safety—saving time, money, and energy on every trip. It means a smart, resilient electrical grid that powers America’s clean energy future. It means safe, smart roads and highways that are ready for the connected cars of tomorrow and the new energy sources that will power them. And it means changing the way we make our infrastructure investments—so that every dollar we spend goes further.

Clinton’s plan would save families time and money, improve quality of life, and unlock economic opportunity.

Even as it positions the United States to lead the global economy of tomorrow, Clinton’s infrastructure plan would improve the lives of workers and families today. Our deteriorating roads result in a hidden “pothole tax” that takes over $500 per year out of American families’ pockets because of extra car maintenance. Rush-hour commuters waste 42 hours in traffic annually — costing them nearly $1,000 per year in fuel and other expenses, giving them less time to spend with their families, harming our environment, and damaging public health.  Air travelers find themselves delayed and stranded, as more than one in five American flights is either delayed or cancelled altogether.  Consumers pay more for everything from food to furniture because of freight congestion in our highways, waterways, and ports. And too many Americans are living in opportunity deserts — finding it difficult to get and keep a job because getting to work means traveling for an hour or more using unreliable, indirect transit systems. Clinton will fight to make and support investments that will save families time and money, improve their quality of life, and unlock economic opportunity. 

Clinton’s plan would combat climate change and protect our communities.

From rising sea levels to more severe storms, heat waves, and wildfires, climate change is already taking a toll on the nation’s infrastructure—leaving taxpayers to pick up the tab. Already, vulnerable communities are being disproportionately affected by the impacts of climate change and the lack of resources to adapt. Clinton will work to ensure that federal infrastructure investments are resilient to both current and future climate risks, and she will partner with states, cities and rural communities to develop regionally coordinated, resilient infrastructure strategies. She will also work to modernize our energy infrastructure; connect our farms, businesses, and households to safe and reliable sources of water; and upgrade our dams and levees to improve safety and generate clean energy.

Clinton’s plan will cut red tape and enhance accountability — so that every dollar of infrastructure investment goes further.

It’s simply not enough to invest more in our infrastructure: we need to get smarter and more efficient about the way we make these investments. One study found that more than three-quarters of U.S. highway projects experience cost overruns. And it can take up to four times longer for large infrastructure projects to get started in the U.S. as compared to other advanced countries like Germany and Canada. Clinton would increase accountability and cut red tape, so that taxpayers get more bang for their buck for every dollar they invest in infrastructure. She would provide more funds through merit-based competitive grants, streamline permitting, support “multi-modal” projects that extend beyond a single type of transportation, build out the project pipeline, and encourage better design and technology. 

Clinton’s plan would go beyond the efforts underway in Congress.

The United States Congress appears close to reaching agreement on a long-term, surface transportation bill—a positive sign after years of gridlock and short-term patches. But these efforts, while important, are not nearly sufficient to meet our infrastructure needs. Clinton’s plan would go further, dramatically growing federal investments and laying the foundations for future growth. And she would go beyond surface transportation investments to address our substantial infrastructure needs in energy, water, broadband, and more. 

Unlike some Republican candidates for president, Clinton understands that this is a national problem that requires a bold, national solution.

It’s no surprise, but Republican candidates for President are placing ideology over common sense—putting forward proposals that dramatically reduce national investments in infrastructure. What these candidates fail to understand is that we are a connected nation—that infrastructure investment is a national issue that requires national solutions. Ranchers in Montana rely on improvements to the Port of Seattle to ship their beef across the world. Farmers in Iowa rely on the Mississippi River and its tributaries, using an extended network of river ports and locks to get their crops to market. Businesses all over the country depend on a network of highways, railways, and ports to deliver their goods to consumers efficiently and affordably and to effectively compete across the continent and world. Slashing federal infrastructure investment, as some Republican candidates have proposed, would be as mindless as it would be harmful — a rejection of Ronald Reagan’s view that infrastructure represents a critical “investment in tomorrow that we must make today.” Hillary Clinton understands that we are one nation—and that we must invest in our future as a nation. She will make good on our time-honored American commitment to leave our children and grandchildren with a country that is stronger than the one we inherited.

INVESTING IN THE FUTURE

Clinton’s comprehensive infrastructure investment agenda is a major down payment on a stronger America — enhancing our competitiveness, giving families a better life, combating climate change, and protecting our communities. Clinton will harness both public and private capital to:

Fix and expand our roads and bridges—reducing congestion and cutting the “pothole tax.” America’s roads and bridges are in a state of disrepair. More than half of our highways are 45 years or older,  and nearly one in four bridges requires significant repair. Clinton will make smart, targeted, and coordinated investments to increase capacity, improve road quality, and reduce congestion — transportation solutions that will meet the needs of Americans today and in the future and slash the “pothole tax” that they silently pay each and every day. In fact, even investments to fix and maintain our current stock of roads and bridges can generate exceptionally high returns for society. 

Expand public transit options to lower transportation costs and unlock economic opportunity for Americans in opportunity deserts. Americans are increasingly living and working in and around urban communities, and they want a range of safe, affordable, convenient, and environmentally sustainable transportation options. But even as transit ridership grows dramatically across the country in communities of all sizes, transit investments have not kept pace with demand. This underinvestment is particularly costly for many low-income communities and communities of color, as a dearth of reliable and efficient public transportation options often creates a huge barrier to Americans attempting to build better lives. Clinton will prioritize and increase investments in public transit to connect Americans to jobs, spur economic growth, and improve quality of life in our communities. And she will encourage local governments to work with low-income communities to ensure that these investments are creating transit options that connect the unemployed and underemployed to the jobs they need. She will also support bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure—reducing carbon emissions, improving public health and safety, and further providing Americans with affordable transportation options.

Connect small businesses, farmers, and manufacturers to their customers and suppliers with a national freight investment program.U.S. transportation networks move nearly $48 billion in goods a day. Yet our insufficient freight infrastructure is preventing American businesses and farmers from reliably and efficiently moving their products to market, hurting U.S. consumers and damaging America’s ability to compete in the global economy. In fact, every year, U.S. businesses have to spend an extra $27 billion just in transportation costs because of congestion in our freight networks aloneCargo trains can reach Chicago from Los Angeles in 48 hours, only to spend 30 hours crawling across Chicago itself. Clinton will make smart, coordinated investments that upgrade our aging rail tunnels and bridges, expand congested highway corridors, eliminate dangerous at-grade railway crossings, and build deeper port channels to accommodate the newest and largest cargo ships. Clinton will also focus on vital “intermodal” transfer points between trucks, rail, and ships—including the “last-mile connectors” between different modes, like the local roads that connect highways to ports. She is committed to initiating upgrades of at least the 25 most costly freight bottlenecks by the end of her first term. 

Accelerate next generation aviation technology and invest in creating world-class American airports — saving travelers time, cutting down on delays, and reducing carbon emissions. The American aviation system is the busiest and safest in the world. But much of it still runs on antiquated technology — including radar-based air traffic control systems from the World War II era. The Federal Aviation Administration is currently pursuing a “NextGen” upgrade program that would move our national airspace system from ground-based radar to satellite-based navigation, improve digital communications, and enhance information management. But these efforts have fallen chronically behind schedule and well short of expectations. Clinton will get this crucial program back on track and ensure that it is managed effectively and with accountability. These changes will save air travelers and airlines an estimated $100 billion in avoided delays over the next 15 years — ensuring that the nation that invented aviation continues to be its world leader

Clinton will also invest in building world-class American airports. Our airports are operating at capacities far beyond their original design, resulting in major delays due to a lack of investment. The newest major airport in America is now 20 years old, and, according to one global survey, America’s top airport is ranked 30th in the world. Clinton will work to ensure that airports have the funding they need to create world-class air hubs for the 21st century, with reliable and efficient connections to mass transit.

Connect allAmericans to the digital economy with 21st century Internet access. Clinton believes that high-speed Internet access is not a luxury; it is a necessity for equal opportunity and social mobility in a 21st century economy. That’s why she will finish the job of connecting America’s households to the Internet, committing that by 2020, 100 percent of households in America will have access to affordable broadband that delivers world-class speeds sufficient to meet families’ needs. Clinton will also build upon the Obama Administration’s efforts to increase not just broadband access but also broadband adoption, both by fostering greater competition in local broadband markets to bring down prices and by investing in low-income communities and in digital literacy programs. In addition, Clinton is committed to expanding the Obama Administration’s efforts to connect “anchor” institutions — like public school and public libraries — to high-speed broadband. She will invest new federal resources so that train stations, airports, mass transit systems, and other public buildings can have access to gigabit connectivity and can provide free Wi-Fi to the public. 

Moreover, Clinton will build on the Obama Administration’s progress in fostering the evolution from 4G wireless networks to 5G networks and other next-generation systems that can deliver wireless connections measured in gigabits, not just megabits, per second. Widely deployed 5G networks, and new unlicensed and shared spectrum technologies, are essential platforms that will support the Internet of Things, smart factories, driverless cars, and much more — developments with enormous potential to drive economic growth and improve people’s lives. 

Enhance safety and economic growth by equipping our infrastructure and our cities with the technology of tomorrow.A wide-ranging system of advanced energy fueling stations for the 21st century fleet. A network of roadway sensors capable of alerting drivers to a dangerous icy patch a mile ahead. Lives saved and traffic reduced by vehicles that can sense and communicate with one another. Reduced traffic and pollution through more efficient and effective parking management systems in our cities. These are only a few of the changes coming to transportation and urban life — but this future will not simply happen on its own. Clinton will work to equip our infrastructure with the technology of tomorrow. She would provide more funding for basic research in transportation technology that searches for answers to questions that are too far in the future for private industry to address, and she would promote intelligent transportation system projects through funding programs

Build a faster, safer, and higher capacity passenger rail system. Although more and more Americans are traveling via train, our passenger rail infrastructure is crumbling — slowing down journeys, limiting ridership, and making trains less safe. In some cases, crucial infrastructure is more than a century old. Clinton will invest in creating a world-leading passenger rail system to meet rapidly growing demand and build a more mobile America. 

Build energy infrastructure for the 21st century. Clinton has already released a comprehensive plan to make our existing energy infrastructure cleaner and safer, and to build the new infrastructure necessary for the United States to become a clean energy superpower. Cities like Baltimore and Chicago are struggling to replace thousands of miles of corroded natural gas pipes, some of which are more than 100 years old, while municipal electric grids across the country have seen blackouts from extreme storms and heat waves. Clinton’s plan will modernize our pipeline system, increase rail safety, and enhance grid security. It will also build new infrastructure to power our economic future and capture America’s clean energy potential. Through her Clean Energy Challenge, Clinton will partner with states, cities, and rural communities that take the lead in reducing carbon pollution by investing in clean energy and lowering energy costs through energy efficiency and innovative transportation solutions. She will ensure the federal government is a partner in delivering clean and affordable energy, supporting infrastructure investments that give Americans more control over the energy they consume.

Connect our farms, businesses, and households to safe and reliable drinking water and wastewater systems — saving billions of gallons of drinking water and cutting energy costs. For too long, we have been underinvesting in the drinking and wastewater systems that keep our communities healthy and safe. Our drinking water systems — parts of which are more than a century oldleak nearly 6 billion gallons every day, or roughly one-sixth of our daily water useCalifornia’s cities alone leak 283 billion gallons per year — enough to meet the needs of the entire city of Los Angeles. Aging and inadequate wastewater systems discharge more than 900 billion gallons of untreated sewage a year, posing health risks to humans and wildlife, disrupting ecosystems, and disproportionately impacting communities of color. And in the West, where the water system was designed for the climate of the past, record droughts and raging wildfires are destroying land, depleting reservoirs and straining local and federal budgets. Drinking water and wastewater treatment is often the largest single energy consumer for municipalities, and accounts for 3 to 4 percent of America’s national electricity consumption every year — meaning there’s significant money and energy to be saved by making these systems more efficient. We need a bold agenda to revitalize our aging water infrastructure and make it more sustainable and energy efficient. Clinton will work to harness both public and private resources to support these efforts.

Modernizing our dams and levees to improve safety and generate clean energy.Our 84,000 dams and roughly 100,000 miles of levees serve to protect us from floods, facilitate the movement of goods, generate electricity, and more. But our efforts to maintain these critical structures are haphazard and under-resourced — with both insufficient funding and insufficient information. Ten years ago, Hurricane Katrina demonstrated the stark dangers posed by faulty water control infrastructure. And these public safety concerns are only intensified by the increasing threat of severe weather due to climate change. We need to substantially increase funding to inspect these structures, bring them into good repair, and remove them where appropriate. Our existing dams can also be a significant source of new clean energy generation, and Clinton will support efforts to increase dams’ capacity to deliver affordable and reliable electricity while reducing carbon pollution.

NEW RESOURCES AND BETTER PERFORMANCE

Boost federal infrastructure investment by $275 billion over the next five years. There is simply no substitute for robust public investment in infrastructure to enhance our competitiveness, give families a better life, combat climate change, and protect our communities. Clinton will work to increase federal infrastructure funding by $275 billion over the next five years, of which $250 billion would be allocated to direct public investment. She will fully pay for these investments through business tax reform.

Reauthorize a Build America Bonds program to help finance the rebuilding of America’s infrastructure. The Obama Administration’s Build America Bonds (BABs) program stimulated investment in infrastructure — broadening the market for municipal borrowing by attracting new sources of capital, such as pension funds, that do not receive benefits associated with traditional tax-exempt debt. The program was hugely successful: in just two years, BABs supported more than $180 billion in infrastructure spending in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. BABs are a more efficient way of helping to finance infrastructure spending than traditional tax-exempt municipal debt, as tax-exempt municipal debt ends up benefiting not just infrastructure projects but also high-income purchasers of the debt. As President, Clinton would reauthorize the Build America Bonds program so that the federal support goes entirely toward rebuilding America’s infrastructure.

Create a $25 billion national infrastructure bank — providing up to an additional $225 billion in federally supported investment for energy, water, broadband, transportation, and multi-modal infrastructure projects. Clinton is not only committed to substantially increasing federal funding for infrastructure investment. She will also work alongside state and local governments to help unlock private pools of capital—including pension funds—to complement public investment in America’s infrastructure. That’s why she will allocate $25 billion over five years to an independent, government-owned infrastructure bank with a bipartisan board of highly qualified directors authorized to make critical investments in building 21st century infrastructure. The bank will: 

  • Provide loans, loan guarantees, and other forms of credit enhancement. The bank would focus on projects of regional and national significance, emphasizing investments in complex multi-modal projects like freight and port improvements, and in projects to modernize our energy, water, broadband, and transportation systems in urban and rural communities. The bank will operate with prevailing wage standards and domestic sourcing requirements for project materials. 
  • Be empowered to authorize issuance of special, “super” Build America Bonds to support state and local investment. The Bank would also be empowered to authorize issuance of “super-BABs” by state and local governments that would provide greater federal government support than would otherwise be available for deserving projects of regional and national significance.
  • Select projects based on merit, not politics. To ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent wisely, the bank will require applicants to demonstrate that their projects will be in the public interest, cost-effective for taxpayers, economically productive, and resilient to the expected future impacts of climate change.
  • Provide a center of excellence. Building on the work of President Obama’s Build America Transportation Investment Center, the bank will offer a one-stop-shop to states, municipalities, and project sponsors seeking to utilize federal resources and expertise in developing infrastructure projects that will benefit the American public.  

Clinton will also support existing credit programs that are already working well — like the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act, which finances transformative transportation projects across the country.     Apply best practices to improve the way we invest in infrastructure and get the most for the American people’s money. Investing more in our infrastructure isn’t enough — the way America currently designs, funds, and builds infrastructure projects needs repair. Clinton would make sure taxpayers are getting the most bang for their buck. She would work to ensure that projects are selected on impact, not politics, streamline permitting, break down silos that limit funds to a single type of transportation, and encourage 21st century design and technology. These reforms would do more than save taxpayers money — they would encourage private capital currently sitting on the sidelines to invest in America’s future.  

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