Dan Glickman

Rural America doesn’t have good broadband — and needs it

The all-out push in Congress to pass a historic infrastructure bill offers an unprecedented opportunity to bring high-speed internet to unconnected rural areas. It’s a watershed moment for rural America, one that could turbocharge economic development and help reverse long-standing health and education challenges.

Rural America needs internet access

Many states have their own offices focusing on rural broadband, and there is very little coordination between those offices, and the many federal agencies responsible for elements of internet connectivity extension. President Joe Biden and Congressional leaders can include language that ensures that better coordination leads to faster deployment of rural broadband solutions. It is not as if there has been no work done on this to date. The Federal Communications Commission has been working on this issue for years, and some progress has been made.

Hillary Clinton is right on infrastructure, but more is needed

[Commentary] Secretary Hillary Clinton published a plan to rebuild America’s infrastructure earlier this year, and is now making infrastructure investments a key part of her economic pitch to the American people. Her plan focuses on key needs like road and bridge repair, investing in public transit, increasing freight rail capacity, renovating airports and the air traffic control system, increasing broadband access, upgrading water and sewer systems, and modernizing the nation’s antiquated power grid.

Her proposal costs $275 billion and is a good start, but a report by the American Society of Civil Engineers says that the country actually needs $1.6 trillion in infrastructure spending at all levels by 2020 to bring us up to date and to make America competitive with the rest of the world. Years ago, the Chicago architect Daniel Burnham wisely said “make no small plans, for they do not have the power to stir men’s souls.” The country’s needs are indeed great, and Secretary Clinton, as president, can address those needs, and make a transformational decisions, by following Daniel Burnham’s wisdom.

[Glickman is a former Congressman and Secretary of Agriculture and currently is a Senior Fellow at the Bipartisan Policy Center]