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Public-private partnerships remain reliable investments

Regarding your article “With bailout passed, lobbyists look to get in the game” (Oct. 4), I must respond to Rich Gold’s statement. He remarks that private investment in infrastructure will be “over” due to the Wall Street crisis. As the executive director of the NCPPP, a nonprofit organization comprised of more than 170 public and private members, I can assure Mr. Gold and other naysayers that private investment in our nation’s public infrastructure continues to be strong.

Particularly in the current environment of concern about risks, private investment in public infrastructure represents one of the safest investments. This is why the retirement and pension funds are significantly increasing their investment in infrastructure projects — they are a reliable long-term, secure investment.

Further, the State Infrastructure Banks created by Congress as a public-private partnership investment tool are considered a safer investment than public bonds and other financing.

The Indiana Toll Road lease deal, only one example, provides for 75 years of investment returns for the private-sector partner. The state of Indiana now has $3.8 billion (plus $500,000 per day in earned interest) to bring its ailing infrastructure up to a good state of repair. In fact, Indiana is the only state with a fully funded transportation investment program.

Even though lenders now scrutinize each public-private project far more closely, there continues to be a significant use of this tool as an alternative to traditional infrastructure development methods.

Mr. Gold’s eagerness to pronounce private infrastructure investment “dead” is a misguided and serious disservice to this method of providing assistance to states and local governments in these challenging times.

I invite others who would care to be informed about this area of investment to visit our website, www.ncppp.org .

Arlington, Va.

Goals for 1st 100 days

From Denny Freidenrich, First Strategies LLC

The next president of the United States is going to be immediately faced with a number of larger-than-life issues. Chief among these will be the questions about the American economy, Iran and North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, ways to cripple international terrorism, and Russia’s renewed aggression, to name a few.

What I suggest Sens. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) do right now is begin telling voters what their first 100 days in office will yield. Like the ever-optimistic Franklin D. Roosevelt did 75 years ago when he reset America’s compass, the next president will have a similar opportunity.

Since the 1930s, economists have been arguing the positive and negative aspects of FDR’s New Deal. His first 100 days were a whirlwind of results. As Will Rogers, America’s reigning commentator at the time, said:

“No money, no banks, no work, no nothing, but they know they got a man in there who is wise to Congress, wise to our big bankers, and wise to our so-called big men. The whole country is with Roosevelt. Even if what he does is wrong, they are with him. Just so he does something. If he burned down the Capitol, we would cheer and say, ‘Well, at least we got a fire started somehow.’”

Laguna Beach, Calif.

Pro-business McGovern

From Bill Schleicher

(Regarding article “McGovern joins business groups’ push to defeat labor-backed ‘card check’ bill,” Oct. 7.) Former senator and presidential candidate George McGovern is not just a friend of right-wing, anti-labor lobbyist Rick Berman. He is an accomplice, long involved in Berman’s front groups. My memory is that McGovern failed to get much labor support in the 1972 presidential election because he had taken the business side on key labor legislation in the late 1950s.

New York

Afghanistan dilemma

From Wes Pedersen

(Regarding article “Joint Chiefs chairman: Afghanistan getting worse,” Oct. 9.) Adm. Mike Mullen is obviously right: Unless we can make Afghanistan more stable financially, we may lose a country on which we have expended so much blood and treasure. The problem, glaringly clear, is that we do not have the further resources on which victory in Afghanistan will depend. When do we begin pulling our troops out?

Chevy Chase, Md.