James Pethokoukis

Politics and policy from inside Washington

Maybe Obama should have pulled a Christie on infrastructure stimulus

October 22, 2010

Cause it really hasn’t worked out so well, as The Economist outlines.  The magazine criticisms are as follows:

First, and most important, a relatively small share of the bill was actually devoted to infrastructure. But even on the broadest definition of the term, infrastructure got $150 billion, under a fifth of the total. …Just $64 billion, or 8% of the total, went to roads, public transport, rail, bridges, aviation and wastewater systems.

Second, hopes for an immediate jolt of activity were misplaced. … By October 2009 even the fastest programs—those under the highway and transit headings—had seen work begin on just $14.3 billion-worth of projects.

Meanwhile the bill’s most notable project, high-speed passenger rail, threatens to become a debacle.  … Freight companies worry that new passenger services will simply increase congestion. Any new rail service, meanwhile, is unlikely to be particularly fast. The Recovery Act dedicated $8 billion for high-speed trains, a sizeable sum but not enough for any train that is actually high-speed.

Me:  OK, so the infrastructure plan wasn’t the greatest. Also, the tax “cut” portion of the plan was poorly structured. Is is any surprise that the US is looking at a continuation of the New Normal slow-growth, high unemployment scenario?

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