Debate around improving US infrastructure are typically funding discussions. Where will the money come from to (a) build more airports/bridges/roads and (b) repair or improve existing airports/bridges/roads? Then again, poor infrastructure and financial woes are about what one would expect when government fails to apply basic economic principles. As Clifford Winston writes in a new Mercatus study:
Prices are not aligned with users’ contributions to congestion and delays, investments are not based on benefit-cost analyses, and regulation inflates operating costs.
Those problems persist because of the limitations of government agencies and regulatory constraints, as well as political forces. Among the latter, the American Trucking Association has long opposed axle-weight charges for the pavement damage caused by trucks, and labor unions have blocked the repeal of Davis-Bacon rules that raise the costs of road building and repair by requiring federal construction projects to pay “prevailing” (i.e., union-level) wages.