Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake got a rare opportunity to throw a question at former President Bill Clinton, courtesy of Bloomberg Businessweek -- and she used it to ask how the nation can stimulate a "more serious, bipartisan" discussion on infrastructure investment.
In a piece published this morning called "What would Bill Do?" Clinton took questions from five business and civic leaders. Rawlings-Blake, a fellow Democrat, was the only elected official in the mix.
"Cities and towns across America are struggling with the issue of crumbling infrastructure and how to finance new investment," Rawlings-Blake writes. "How can we stimulate a more serious, bipartisan discussion about the importance of investing in America's infrastructure on a national scale? And what can we learn from other nations that are making smart investments in roads, bridges, transit, water systems, and broadband?"
Clinton's answer: Create local infrastructure banks.
"The most promising opportunity for bipartisan cooperation is a national infrastructure bank, which would be seeded with a modest amount of public money, then mostly funded by private investment with an attractive and secure rate of return," he wrote. "Originally, this proposal had bipartisan support. If Republicans in Washington are no longer willing to back the bank, then state and city officials should establish their own."
The Obama administration has been touting an infrastructure bank for years with little success. Clinton pointed to an effort underway in Chicago led by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Obama's former chief of staff.