David Ignatius’s Jan. 10 op-ed column, “How Obama can be like Ike,” focused on foreign policy. But another way Dwight Eisenhower can be a model for the current administration and Congress is right here at home. In 1956, President Eisenhower signed the Federal-Aid Highway Act, creating the Interstate Highway System, the largest public works program in our nation’s history.
Today, nearly two decades after the completion of this vast network, the country’s transportation policy is languishing. At its creation, the public agreed that this immense federal program was essential for the health, prosperity and economic competitiveness of the nation. A sense of purpose and clear intent drove the program — to strengthen national defense, improve access to rural places and between cities, to create jobs and economic opportunity. The result has been the transformation of American life.
Today the infrastructure play in Washington is unclear, at best. We need to take a page out of Eisenhower’s book, lay out a compelling vision, and once again make smart and strategic investments in infrastructure both to support jobs in the short term and to build a productive economy for the long haul.
Robert Puentes, Washington
The writer is a senior fellow and director of the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Infrastructure Initiative.