James Pethokoukis

Politics and policy from inside Washington

Maybe Obama should have pulled a Christie on infrastructure stimulus

Oct 22, 2010 19:30 UTC

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?

What the Obama economy will look like in 2012

Jul 31, 2009 20:20 UTC

You know, i don’t agree with all it, but I do agree with a lot of this analysis from Joel Kotkin:

So no matter how much the conservatives complain, Obamanomics most likely will end up with results remarkably like those of Bushonomics: more consumption, less production, expanding public debt, asset inflation on Wall Street and a slowly declining middle-class standard of living. The only real difference will lie in who gets to rob the public — instead of pharmaceutical and oil companies, we get Gorite “renewable” energy traders and well-connected “green” venture capitalists.

Americans need to place a pox on both these flawed models. We need a totally new approach that focuses on key productivity-enhancing investments such as improved transportation infrastructure — new roads, bridges, ports and waterways to meet the demands of an expanded economy for a growing population. We should be looking at modern equivalents of the New Deal electrification program, the GI Bill, the Eisenhower highway and the space program.

Clearly, an infrastructure that is inadequate today will be utterly useless in 2050, when there are projected to be at least 100 million more Americans. Already, our energy-generating capacity in some parts sputters like that of a Third World country. Commodity exports, such as grains, unable to reach foreign markets because of a lack of rail cars and adequate waterways, are left to rot and feed rats.

This is not the way to prepare ourselves for ever greater competition from countries such as China, India and Brazil. Americans must demand a program that, while perhaps financially painful now, will make it possible for our progeny to enjoy a prosperous future rather than a declining one.

COMMENT

Dear James,
You have analysed Obamaeconomics in a detailed ways.
i have agreed your views by partial ways.
Entire world wants to know ,where America stands in Global economic map.
Now the time has come for America to discourage outsiders for small,unskilled jobs from third world countries.
simple logic holds good for any country,for anybody.
First, we should earn,save,spend for essential things to our family,our parents,our blood relatives and to our own country.
America!s infra structures like,new bridges,new roads,new school,college set up,small essential items to be produced locally with American citizens talents,construction of public health care sectors,encouragement to small media networks,cultivation of non-violence,away from day today,film personalities publicity gimmicks etc, will create a new awakening to Americans.
As a journalist with very wide knowledge on local and world economics ,will bring much positive outcome to economic slow down to recovery in future years.
I hope that,American planners will read your articles again and again for her country interests.
best work done by you.
Hope to get more economic lights from this network and from you,and from other editors.

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