Infrastructure

The House has a stimulus proposal out today, and Ezra has the rundown. David Sirota, you’ll be shocked to hear, is pissed. Matt Yglesias is fairly reserved about it all. 

I probably lean towards Matt’s take on all of this. The problem with the Sirota approach, looking at the raw number and screaming that it’s too small, is that it isn’t actually factoring anything else in. It’s like a reverse sticker shock reaction. There’s a lot of outrage at the price, but there’s no real consideration as to why the price is what it is. As much as we may need X amount of projects done, it may just not be the case that we can do it all at once. Another consideration is that transportation infrastrucutre spending, while a very worthy investment in the long run, isn’t exactly the best stimulus to the economy in the short term, which is probably why the stimulus bill isn’t more than 10% (a very large portion relatively I would add) devoted to that. The proper remedy to this, I think, is a subsequent bill dealing specifically with transportation issues, namely moving more projects along and getting them ready to go. But as Matt points out, that’s a process that could take years in some cases, which makes it very ineffective as part of the stimulus.

As to the road-rail ration, I’m not too burnt up about that, namely because I don’t know what “highway construction” means. If we’re talking about building $30 billion in new sprawl inducing roads, I’m not going to be happy. But if we’re talking $30 worth of repair and general maintenance to existing highways, that’s probably a pretty efficient way to undertake some necessary work while simultaneously pumping money into the economy quickly.

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