Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Better Than Doing Nothing
Today President Obama signs the Stimulus Bill into law. Many economists say that the package is not big enough to do all the infrastructure building that our country needs. That is correct, but the political reality required that less not more be placed in the Bill. Infrastructure is not spending, infrastructure is an investment in our country. The New Deal built infrastructure that carried this country’s needs for a few generations, but now new infrastructure needs are necessary for our country to continue to grow in the 21st century.
The Republican Party could have pushed for more infrastructure spending, but their political game plan is to do nothing when they are out of power. The Republican Party has no rational political philosophy because they have taken the view that government is not the right vehicle for such projects. Other than defense spending, where their supporters reside, everything else should be taken care of by each individual or left to the states.
For those of you too young to remember the 1960’s, or from outside the USA and not familiar with our history, this country fought a second civil war in the 1960s. This war was not as bloody as the first Civil War, as far fewer people died, but people died. The second Civil War was known as the Civil Rights Movement. The signing of the Civil Rights Act by President Johnson gave the Republican Party the political victories that they could never have achieved without President Johnson doing the right thing and signing the Civil Rights Bill. With the signing of the Civil Rights Bill, the Republican Party’s Southern Strategy was born. Nixon was the first presidential candidate to employ the Southern Strategy in a presidential campaign. On November 4, 2008, presidential candidate Obama defeated the Republican candidate and defeated a political strategy that had lasted more than a generation.
Below I have listed 11 projects printed in The New York Times this past Sunday so some can see what an infrastructure project looks like.
1) California High-Speed Rail $45 billion
2) NextGen(eration) Air Traffic Control $15 to $22 billion
3) California Drinking Water - tens of billions of dollars
4) Gulf Ports $1.04 billion for New Orleans, $1 billion for Gulfport, Miss.
5) Seattle Highway Tunnel $4.24 billion
6) Hudson Rail Tunnel $8.75 billion
7) Chicago Rail Network $2.5 billion
8) Miami Port Tunnel $1 billion
9) Second Avenue Subway $4.35 billion
10) Bridge to Canada $1.8 billion
11) Dulles Airport Train $5.2 billion
There is no doubt in my mind that more not less infrastructure building is necessary today given the fact that our country has not made the necessary infrastructure investments over the last 29 years.
Perhaps a clever economist would be so kind as to convert these 2009 U.S. dollars into 1933 U.S. dollars so we could have a fair comparison of the actual spending that will take place some 76 years later. Knowing how much inflation has occurred in the last 76 years, makes me think that the New Deal may have been bigger.