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Event Summary

Roads and bridges across the country are deteriorating, but money is too tight to fix them. At the Newseum on Monday, experts discussed the need to reform America’s transportation infrastructure policy. In his introductory remarks, AEI’s R. Richard Geddes underscored the inadequacy of gas taxes to meet current infrastructure investment needs, describing how inflation, more fuel-efficient cars, and less driving had whittled down gas taxes’ purchasing power and size. Geddes called for renewed emphasis on the role of private firms in partnering with governments to fill the gap.

Panelists then discussed various proposals for and challenges facing reform. Congressman John Delaney (D-MD) discussed his Partnership to Build America Act, which would finance $750 billion in infrastructure investments by issuing nongovernment-guaranteed bonds. He explained that US companies could purchase these bonds in return for the opportunity to bring a certain amount of their overseas earnings tax free back to the US.

Ron DeFeo of Terex Corporation argued more broadly for a concrete, modern vision of American infrastructure that rivals that of China and Germany. Janet Kavinoky of the Chamber of Commerce, however, critiqued DeFeo’s comments, noting the tension between a unified, forward-looking vision and policies that devolve project selection decisions to the state or local level under the assumption that those states and localities are most familiar with their own needs. Moreover, they concluded that the current earmark-free congressional environment adds a new element of uncertainty.
–Brad Wassink

Event Description

Amid tightening budgets and partisan gridlock, how should US political leaders address the need for significant investment in America’s aging infrastructure? What are the best ways for the government to allocate its infrastructure resources and to pursue innovative reforms? And how can industry leaders partner with government officials at the federal and state levels and with other interested stakeholders to ensure that American infrastructure is able to meet the demands of the 21st century?

Join AEI and Third Way for a panel discussion of transportation infrastructure reforms — including Rep. John Delaney’s (D-MD) infrastructure fund in the Partnership to Build America Act and the expansion of public-private partnerships — as part of a half-day conference on broader infrastructure policy hosted by The Atlantic.

If you are unable to attend, we welcome you to watch the event live here.


10:20 AM
Opening Remarks:
R. Richard Geddes, AEI
Bernard Schwartz, Third Way

10:35 AM
Ron DeFeo, Terex Corporation
John Delaney, US House of Representatives (D-MD)
Janet Kavinoky, US Chamber of Commerce

Steve Clemons, The Atlantic

11:20 AM

Event Contact Information

For more information, please contact Brad Wassink at [email protected], 202.862.7197.

Media Contact Information

For media inquiries, please contact [email protected], 202.862.5829.

Speaker Biographies

Steve Clemons is Washington, DC, editor-at-large for The Atlantic and editor of Atlantic Live. He writes frequently about politics and foreign affairs. He is a senior fellow and the founder of the American Strategy Program at the New America Foundation, where he previously served as executive vice president. He writes and speaks frequently about the DC political scene, foreign policy, and national security issues, as well as domestic and global economic policy challenges.

Ron DeFeo is the chairman and CEO of Terex Corporation, an American manufacturer of a broad range of heavy equipment for a variety of industries including construction, infrastructure, and transportation. DeFeo joined Terex in 1992, was appointed president and chief operating officer in 1993, was appointed CEO in 1995, and was appointed chairman of the board in 1998. Before his time at Terex, DeFeo was a senior vice president of J.I. Case Company and also served as a managing director of Case Construction Equipment throughout Europe.

John Delaney (D-MD) is a Democratic freshman class president, senior whip, and is the only member of Congress who was formerly CEO of a publicly traded company. Delaney founded and led two New York Stock Exchange–listed financial services companies and is a past winner of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award. In 2010, Delaney’s company, CapitalSource, received the Bank Enterprise Award from the US Department of the Treasury for lending to disadvantaged communities. Delaney serves on the House Committee on Financial Services and on the Joint Economic Committee. Delaney is a member of the board of directors of Georgetown University and the National Symphony Orchestra.

R. Richard Geddes is a visiting scholar at AEI and an associate professor in the Department of Policy Analysis and Management at Cornell University. His research fields include private infrastructure investment through public-private partnerships, postal service policy, corporate governance, and antitrust policy. In addition to teaching courses at Cornell on corporate governance and the regulation of industry, Geddes directs Cornell’s Program on Infrastructure Policy. He served as a commissioner on the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission and has held positions as a senior staff economist on the President’s Council of Economic Advisers, as visiting faculty fellow at Yale Law School, and as national fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

Janet Kavinoky
is the executive director of transportation and infrastructure at the US Chamber of Commerce. In that position, Kavinoky leads all transportation strategy, policy, and lobbying efforts for the Chamber. She has expertise in developing consensus policy positions among diverse stakeholders and lobbying Congress and executive-branch agencies on a wide range of legislative and regulatory matters relating to surface, air, and water transportation. Kavinoky is also vice president of the Chamber-led Americans for Transportation Mobility Coalition, a nationwide effort by business, labor, transportation organizations, and concerned citizens to advocate for improved and increased federal investment in the nation’s transportation system.

Bernard Schwartz is chairman and CEO of BLS Investments LLC, a private investment firm. He also manages the investments of the Bernard and Irene Schwartz Foundation, which mainly supports higher education, medical research, and New York City–based cultural organizations. He promotes the development of US economic policy initiatives through investment in think tanks, universities, and advocacy organizations. Schwartz is also chairman emeritus of the Third Way Board of Trustees.

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