Erin Chapman, Blueprint America
— Conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation, for instance, decries the “nostalgic embrace” of the New Deal and says we should take a lesson from Japan in the ’90s – infrastructure spending won’t help our economy. The author worries that substantial impact on the economy would be stymied by the lag time between project proposal and implementation, “as well as the propensity of the state and local governments to substitute federal money for already-committed state and local money in order to shift such funds to other purposes.”
— The Wall Street Journal has a nice break-down of what Obama’s $600 billion economic recovery package will be spent on. The five categories of infrastructure investment are 1) transportation and traditional infrastructure; 2) school construction; 3) energy efficiency, especially in government buildings; 4) broadband Internet access; and 5) health care information technology. The article states there may be opposition to this level of spending from Republicans wary of the price tag – “There is no guarantee that a surge of money will get the economy out of what appears to be the most protracted recession in decades. Consider the failed effort earlier this year with stimulus checks.” Hmmm… Consider that the problem with the stimulus checks may have been – as Paul Krugman has pointed out – that money went to individuals who stashed the rebate in the bank, rather than buying a flat-screen TV to stimulate the economy.
— A group of 26 experts from America 2050 (an infrastructure think tank of sorts) recently wrote to the NY Times blog Economix, outlining the broad strokes of how to improve the nation’s infrastructure while also stimulating the economy. Wary of “spending as usual, ” the authors call for a “new level of accountability, transparency, and economic and environmental performance for how this country invests in infrastructure projects.” Their five part plan consists of 1) fixing existing roads, bridges, etc. in order to quickly create jobs; 2) phased planning that allows time for strategic project development, job training and capacity building; 3) the prioritization of “green” projects; 4) investment in job training programs; and 5) funding for analysis of project outcomes. To oversee this process, they propose a National Recovery and Renewal Council that would report directly to the White House and consist of representatives from both public agencies and the private sector.