Let’s rebuild America now

The voters want jobs. They do not want Washington to descend further into a Dark Age of vindictive partisan gridlock.

I suggest both political parties work together to create a Rebuild America Bond to raise private capital to build roads, bridges, schools, military hospitals, vets centers and other shared priorities.

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Before elaborating on the Rebuild America Bond, let’s step back for a moment. Harry Truman said that the only new thing in the world is the history you don’t know.

As work begins to address the deficit crisis, Republicans can learn from Ronald Reagan, and Democrats can learn from Tip O’Neill, about how great rivals can work together on major national challenges.

With the jobless crisis imposing severe pain and political independents demanding constructive bipartisan action, Republicans can learn from former Rep. Jack Kemp, and Democrats can learn from former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen.

The Republicans miss Kemp, who was a fountain of ideas to create private-sector incentives to address priority national problems. Kemp was both an inspiration to Ronald Reagan and a colleague to liberal Democrats whom he respected and worked with whenever possible.

The Democrats miss Bentsen, who was a progressive capitalist and successful CEO and venture financier in the years between his service in the House and Senate. As senator and Treasury secretary, Bentsen became good friends and respectful partners with leading Republican senators such as Bob Dole and John Danforth.

I have been urging the creation of a patriotic national unity bond since the origin of the Iraq war, which created major war costs alongside major tax cuts, leading to ballooning deficits and severe problems for military personnel, equipment and healthcare.

A Rebuild America Bond would combine attributes of liberal and conservative thinking, in the tradition of Jack Kemp and Lloyd Bentsen.

The Rebuild America Bond would be a conservative, interest-bearing investment like the savings bond and the war bonds of the 1940s. It would be a purely voluntary, opt-in venture that would appeal to many patriotic Americans and financial institutions. It would win substantial support from political independents and voters in the Midwest and hard-hit constituents and communities across the nation.

The Rebuild America Bond would appeal to individuals who today receive close to zero interest on deposited funds. It would appeal to Wall Street firms, mutual fund managers, money center banks and insurers whose portfolios include prudent interest-bearing investments.

The Rebuild America Bond would attract private capital for national priorities. It would attract some of the vast amount of institutional capital now being hoarded, in very low-interest accounts, in a very low-growth economy.

As proposed here, both parties would carefully negotiate the specific uses of Rebuild America Bond capital. There is no such thing as a Democratic or Republican collapsing bridge, decaying school, missing vets center or urgently needed military hospital.

While our political debates will continue, let’s mobilize the good will and patriotism of an American people who are in this together and won’t accept an America in decline.

There are Democrats and Republicans with private-sector experience who can become the new Kemps and Bentsens, working together on a wide range of issues to support venture capitalists, entrepreneurs and innovators.

Let’s rebuild America now. 

Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen and Bill Alexander, then chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics. He can be read on The Hill’s Pundits Blog and reached at brentbbi@webtv.net.