A Second Term Highway Stimulus… It Hasn’t Worked So Far, But Let’s Try Again!

In his once off-the-record endorsement interview with Iowa’s Des Moines Register, President Obama ran through a list of his first term “accomplishments” and some of his second term goals.  We take issue with the idea that he’s accomplished anything through infrastructure stimulus dollars in his first term.  But first, let’s talk about the two words that jumped off the page: deferred maintenance.

What does the President mean by deferred maintenance?  Spending – er, investment – in roads, bridges and the like.  The newly release transcript provides the context:

“And finally, using some of the war savings to put people back to work on infrastructure — roads, bridges. We’ve fallen behind in that area. And we can — this deferred maintenance, we can put people to work, back, right now, and at the same time make sure that our economy is more competitive over the long term.” 

Make no mistake; the President is laying the rhetorical groundwork for a second term stimulus centered around infrastructure. 

It was a claim repeated in his newly-released glossy booklet that contained nothing new, saying, we “will use half the [war] savings to reduce the deficit and the rest to engage in nation-building here at home.”

We can at least give the President credit for consistency – he was talking about infrastructure four years ago.  The whole country has been on a proverbial treadmill with him since then.  His plan to improve America’s infrastructure has failed, and maybe he’s been living under a rock for his entire presidency, because he’s still pushing the same ineffective policies.

Even worse, President Obama unfortunately thinks that a strong military and a strong economy at home is a zero sum game.  His (not so) brilliant plan is to direct funds “now set aside for overseas conflict” to “a transformative infrastructure vision.”   If only he understood that a strong national defense is perfectly in line with and necessary for strength here at home.

But it gets even worse.  He, and many others, believe the borrowed money we save from winding down overseas operations can then be spent on infrastructure.  Make no mistake, it’s still borrowed money.  It’s not the sort of thing families would do, and it’s not the sort of thing our government should be doing either.

Sadly, President Obama is not alone in this backward transportation thinking.  Congressman Nick Rahall (D-WV) said during an interview with the Register Herald:

“It was a national program that built our Interstate program. We can’t have federal highways going to the state border then falling off a cliff because the other states are not doing their fair share. Our transportation system has to be national in scope and it has to have sufficient funding.”

Here’s a newsflash for President Obama and his liberal progressive friends like Nick Rahall, complements of astute conservative analysis that reflects reality instead of socialistic pipe dreams.  Veronique de Rugy, senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center, explained:

“Even if you were to believe that government spending can trigger economic growth, the money is never spent in a way that’s consistent with the conditions laid out by the Keynesians for it to be efficient.”

Case in point: President Obama’s proposed infrastructure bank, which would provide loans or grants for construction or repair projects at the state and local level.  Heritage’s Ronald Utt explained that these banks would be so “bureaucracy intensive” that “the Obama plan proposes that $270 million be allocated to conduct studies, administer his new bank, and pay the 100 new employees hired to run it.”

Anything that is “bureaucracy intensive” is usually a waste of taxpayer money and does nothing to create real, self-sustaining jobs.  Moreover, Utt reminds us of what infrastructure consists of:

“Such things as residential housing, roads, power plants, telephone poles, railroads, manufacturing facilities, office buildings, hotels, shopping centers, transit systems, water supply and treatment systems, airports, airplanes, cars, public housing, trucks, farms and buses, to name just a few.”

He goes on to point out:

“The fact that the Occupy DC people chose a bridge — not a car dealer, a shopping center, pizza parlor or freight railroad — to protest disrepair and poor service suggests that the real crisis is not one of infrastructure per se, but of the parts that are government-owned and operated with a degree of mismanagement familiar to the millions of Russians and East Europeans who decided to junk such a system in the late 1980s. As such, our infrastructure crisis is really a crisis of monopoly socialism.”

No, really.  Each of the three proposals from Congress to fund state and federal transportation programs would “lead to a concentration of infrastructure investment decisions in Washington, D.C.” and “in the hands of newly created bureaucracies.”

So just to re-cap, President Obama’s vision for America is to make us weaker by draining our precious defense budget and pouring it into a federal infrastructure plan that hasn’t worked for the last four years but is suddenly, magically supposed to start working now.

Cheers to feeling less safe at home, having our troops deprived of necessary resources, driving through potholes, inefficient bureaucracies, and not having jobs!

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