Guest Columnists

A plan to fix our roads and bridges, cut red tape

Steve Corbin is emeritus professor of marketing at the University of Northern Iowa.
Steve Corbin is emeritus professor of marketing at the University of Northern Iowa.

The state of our nation’s infrastructure received a D-minus report card from the American Society for Civil Engineers. And, America’s regulatory system is too complex where compliance costs are about $20,000 per employee.

In March, over 3,000 Americans (1,000 Democrats, 1,000 Republicans and 1,000 No Party independents) offered solutions to solve our infrastructure problem and clean up our inefficient regulatory system. Our upcoming 45th president and 115th Congress should be held accountable to resolve these two problem areas.

America’s infrastructure includes roads, bridges and highways, to name a few. It is estimated we are $4.7 trillion behind in infrastructure repair. Over 63,000 bridges and one-third of our major roads are in poor or mediocre condition.

On average, highway projects take eight years to get regulatory approval. Seventy-five percent of the public feels the federal government must designate infrastructure czars and hold them accountable to streamline the regulatory process for infrastructure projects with our roads, bridges and highways.

The Federal Highway Trust Fund has an annual funding deficit of $13 billion. We should increase the federal gas tax and split the revenues in three equal proportions to: 1) reduce personal income taxes, 2) reduce the federal deficit and 3) provide additional funding for the Highway Trust Fund. We also should create an Infrastructure Bank that relies on public-private partnerships to design, build, finance, operate and maintain public infrastructure.

As for our regulatory system, today’s code of federal regulations exceeds 170,000 pages. Who can keep up with our increasingly complex and incomprehensible rules and regulations? Common sense needs to intervene to protect citizens, preserve our environment and promote public safety.

The first step is simple: Whenever a department or agency proposes a new regulation, they should be required to propose eliminating an existing regulation with comparable cost impact. Secondly, regulations should “sunset” 15 years from the date of implementation unless Congress explicitly acts to keep a particular regulation on the books. Finally, judges should be given more responsibility and authority to dismiss unreasonable lawsuit claims.


Regardless of who the next president is, he or she should review all major federal programs to determine if any aspect of those programs would be more efficiently and effectively handled by state or local government. A bipartisan commission should be established to review and report within one year what existing federal regulations can be reduced by 25 percent.

Very simply, these recommendations would increase economic growth and remove barriers to economic growth.

Ask the average American citizen for ideas to resolve our infrastructure and regulation problems and they will agree, regardless of their political preference, with common sense solutions. Now, it’s up to our elected representatives to be more bipartisan and use common sense.

• Steve Corbin is one of 12 District Leaders in Iowa for the non-partisan and not-for-profit group No Labels. More information: Comments:



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