As Barack Obama's push for a growth-boosting infrastructure boom becomes bogged down in political divisions over federal spending, a stalling recovery makes action increasingly urgent, writes Anna Fifield in the Financial Times.
When Rusiko Jibladze stepped off her flight to Dulles airport, gateway to the capital city of the richest country in the world, she was taken aback. The 48-year-old from formerly Soviet Georgia, this year making her first visit to the US, could scarcely believe what she saw.
“It was the airport that shocked me first – everything seemed to be so old and falling apart – and then the roads. I expected everything to be shiny and new, and instead it was grey and worn out,” Mrs Jibladze recalls. “All my life I heard how amazing America is, so I thought I'd find myself in a fairy tale. Instead it was so grim.”
Barack Obama understands Mrs Jibladze's reaction all too well. Aware that crumbling infrastructure is holding back economic growth, the president has been talking about the urgent need to invest since before he took office. “America, it is time to focus on nation-building here at home,” he said in June, contrasting that task with efforts in Afghanistan.