The next bold endeavor

For a book with a title like Bold Endeavors, one can’t help thinking Felix Rohatyn ends his case studies of political courage with an unresolved cliffhanger. After all, entangled in war, crushed by debt and stomped by recession, the US is more then ever in need of a bold endeavor to secure its future.

Which is precisely why we posed to Rohatyn the question: who is there alive today that could serve as the next chapter in his book?

Rohatyn and Rendell at
press conference urging an
infrastructure bank

Without hesitation, he pointed to Pennsylvania’s Democratic Governor, Ed Rendell. Rendell is one of three co-chairs of Building America’s Future – a political coalition aimed at stimulating greater awareness of the need to invest in the country’s infrastructure.

So what bold endeavor would Rendell champion?

“I would like to see, [as a] capstone of Felix’s wonderful, wonderful career . . . for him and the rest of us be persuasive enough to have this country launch a ten-year infrastructure revitalisation program,” he said.

The program “would create millions of jobs, tremendous business for American manufacturing and would repair and revitalise this country’s infrastructure in a way that would make it safer, economically competitive, and improve the quality of our lives,” Rendell added.

That’s a little different from Rohatyn’s own answer to the same question. The next bold endeavor, he said, would be “something like the RFC,” or Reconstruction Finance Corporation – the Depression-era government financial institution that helped the US stabilise its banking system and other vital sectors of the economy.

This is not to say that there isn’t a lot of common ground between the two men. Both are undoubtedly passionate about infrastructure as a priority and are staking their reputations on making a National Infrastructure Bank a reality.