NSSGA’s President & CEO Says Falsehoods About Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill Must Be Met With Facts
The message from National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association (NSSGA) President & CEO Michael Johnson is diplomatic, but also direct: Americans have always rallied around building a better country for their children and their children‘s children, and today should be no different.
Johnson is back in D.C. after a business trip and chisels out some time to talk with the Americans for Transportation Mobility (ATM) Coalition for its new podcast. He’s aware of the distractive politics tied to the bipartisan infrastructure investment bill passing, so he discusses the long-standing federal role of maintaining, modernizing and rebuilding the United States’ time-worn infrastructure, including roads, bridges and public transit.
“Throughout our history, Republicans and Democrats have come together to make the necessary investments in infrastructure to keep our country going,” says Johnson. “… In a world economy, the ability for us to move goods throughout our economy efficiently [and] to get things from production to port, from port to market, all of that simply makes it easier for us to compete on a world stage in a way that makes us stronger.”
NSSGA was a constant advocate for getting a bipartisan bill through Congress that addresses vast traditional infrastructure needs but also a next-generation game plan. From the initial discussion stage, to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework (BIF) and then to the final Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), NSSGA and its members were influencers.
Johnson is pointed about the slant that bipartisan investment in America’s hard infrastructure — which in today’s world spans rural broadband and water systems, to highways, airports, bus rapid transit (BRT), and passenger rail — is socialism.
Johnson says this viewpoint is dangerous.
Economists generally concur that federal infrastructure spending helps the country become more efficient because it creates good jobs, affords workers more mobility, and improves transportation of goods. The Wall Street Journal reported that U.S. productivity then rises, enabling the economy to grow faster and improving Americans’ living standards.
The First Word, the Last Word
ATM members such as NSSGA use social media because of its immediacy, but they also recognize these information channels create confusion too.
Communicators, leaders and associations continue to learn about these challenges. The MIT Sloan School of Management reported that “false information has become a feature of social media,” and the Pew Research Center recently said seven in 10 U.S. adult Twitter news consumers turn to the platform for breaking news.
But Johnson says misinformation can be met with educating others about why investment in infrastructure is critically important and a historic federal function.
Benefits of federal investment include supporting free enterprise, enabling states to get sidelined projects done and communities to flourish, powering interstate commerce, ensuring work for laborers, building resilient infrastructure, and providing mobility choices so all Americans can travel, work, have access to resources and boost the consumer economy.
Some Highlights of NSSGA Member Involvement:
- NSSGA was planning for members to travel to D.C. to meet with members of Congress for its annual Legislative & Policy Forum when the original House deadline was coincidentally set in September.
- Called to action, NSSGA members showed up and participated, in person, in the first large-scale hybrid meeting since the start of COVID. During the conference portion they also received an update on the negotiations from infrastructure champion Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), who energized attendees ahead of their meetings.
- NSSGA members conducted over 120 meetings, and more than 70 of those were held with members of Congress. These fly-ins and personal meetings allow NSSGA members to explain to policymakers how infrastructure investment benefits their lives, communities and businesses.
- NSSGA continued to increase its social media and grassroots efforts even as the process of multiple extensions occurred. NSSGA members additionally received real-time “Infrastructure Updates.”
- These e-mail alerts allowed NSSGA members to learn about breaking news when movement or progress was happening, as well as be aware of the ways they could stay engaged.
NSSGA is a member of ATM.