Trump is right on infrastructure, but we can’t do this the ‘old school’ way

Mark Cuban says President Trump is right on the need for infrastructure spending. But the billionaire entrepreneur argues it needs to be “infrastructure 4.0,” which would be “looking towards the future rather than trying to recreate the past” as the pace of technology accelerates.

On Tuesday, Trump called for a $2 trillion infrastructure bill to boost the economy reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“With interest rates for the United States being at ZERO, this is the time to do our decades long awaited Infrastructure Bill. It should be VERY Big & Bold, Two Trillion Dollars, and be focused solely on jobs and rebuilding the once great infrastructure of our Country! Phase 4,” the president tweeted.

“He’s right,” Cuban told Yahoo Finance in an interview on Tuesday. “But, the question is: How do we do it and what do we do? I don’t think we can just do it the old school way of just rebuilding roads and bridges. We need to look and say, ‘Can we do a complete reset? What do we need to do going forward?’”

Cuban argued that “you can’t just bring over manufacturing and expect it to be competitive.” However, the first step would be investing in robotics as an example.

“We are not the leader in robotics in the world. So, when we talk about infrastructure, we can talk about building the faces for new factories that incorporate robotics and building software. So then, we can start bringing over those jobs from China and manufacture the critical PPE and other products that we need to have manufactured here. That’s part 1.”

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban watches players warm up before the start of an NBA basketball game against the Miami Heat, Friday, Feb. 28, 2020, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

The second part is to be mindful of climate change and keep emissions low for the future.

“When we talk about rebuilding infrastructure, I think we need to start asking about having self-driving cars-only lanes on roads,” he said. “We need to talk about on highways, how do we make sure self-driving trucks and autonomous vehicles can operate with cross-country carrying and load-carrying?”

Cuban said part of this process will involve getting people comfortable with self-driving cars, especially within cities. He suggested putting bridges over the top of roads like in Las Vegas for pedestrians crossing the street.

If the U.S. sticks to the old school playbook on infrastructure, the country may look back and realize a missed opportunity that was obvious, he said.

“Look, it’s great to rebuild roads. Nobody wants to drive through potholes. We want to create those jobs,” he said. “But, at some point in the future, we are going to ask ourselves, ‘Why didn’t we consider the fact that we are going towards autonomous driving?’ It’s just obvious. This isn’t predicting a Jetsons-like event. We know that autonomous vehicles will be part of our future. We are already starting to see it.”

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Julia La Roche is a Correspondent at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.

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