Support for InfrastructureUSA.org
has been provided by these organizations and individuals:

John Hennessy III,
P.E.

Obama’s New $50 Billion Infrastructure Stimulus — Old Wine in New Bottles

Posted by Ken Orski on Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

Innovation NewsBriefs
Vol. 22 No. 26

President Obama’s new  $50 billion infrastructure initiative — part of his  $447 billion American Jobs Act (AJA)—offered no surprises. It’s almost an exact replica of his FY 2012 budget request which included a  sum of $50 billion for transportation to “jump start” a proposed $556 billion six-year surface transportation reauthorization.

The rhetoric may have changed — Obama avoided using the terms “stimulus” and “infrastructure” in presenting his AJA initiative to Congress—but the substance of the two initiatives is remarkably similar. Both proposals would fund an identical mix of programs (highways, transit, Amtrak, high-speed rail, aviation and the TIFIA credit program) and both would establish a  National Infrastructure Bank.

The FY 2012 transportation budget request failed to obtain congressional approval for two reasons: (1) the Administration failed to show how the proposed $50 billion program would be paid for; and (2) there was no convincing evidence that the program would promptly create new jobs. Indeed, all evidence pointed in the opposite direction. The $48 billion in Recovery Act funds for transportation had failed to create the millions of jobs promised by the Administration. The money earmarked for highways had been spent largely on short term roadway maintenance-type contracts and had produced only temporary jobs  Nor was there much to show for in terms of improved conditions or performance of the nation’s transportation system.  As for the Infrastructure Bank, it is widely believed that at least one or two years could pass before the Bank would become operational  and in a position to begin financing  large-scale job-creating infrastructure projects.

The same reasons that led Congress to ignore the Administration’s FY 2012 transportation budget request will likely cause the lawmakers to reject the new transportation initiative. They are skeptical that a fresh infusion of funds will succeed where the first stimulus failed. Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results may not be exactly insanity but it does suggest a certain unwillingness to face up to reality.

The President said that “everything in this bill will be paid for” and that he will call on the Joint Deficit Committee to come up with additional deficit reductions necessary to pay for the American Jobs Act.  But by proposing to end tax breaks for people making more than $200,000 and for oil and gas companies, the White House is setting itself up again for a fight with Republicans who already once before rejected this approach to “revenue enhancement.”   It remains to be seen if the independent congressional committee will do Obama’s bidding. With the President’s approval ratings at an all time low, they just might be emboldened to ignore his plea.

C. Kenneth Orski is a public policy consultant and former principal of the Urban Mobility Corporation. He has worked professionally in the field of transportation for over 30 years, in both the public and private sector. He is editor and publisher of Innovation NewsBriefs, now in its 22nd year of publication.

Tags: , ,

Comments are closed.

Follow InfraUSA on Twitter Facebook YouTube Flickr

CATEGORIES


Show us your infra! Show us your infra!

Video, stills and tales. Share images of the Infra in your community that demands attention. Post your ideas about national Infra issues. Go ahead. Show Us Your Infra!  Upload and instantly share your message.

Polls Polls

Is the administration moving fast enough on Infra issues? Are Americans prepared to pay more taxes for repairs? Should job creation be the guiding determination? Vote now!

Views

What do the experts think? This is where the nation's public policy organizations, trade associations and think tanks weigh in with analysis on Infra issues. Tell them what you think.  Ask questions.  Share a different view.

Blog

The Infra Blog offers cutting edge perspective on a broad spectrum of Infra topics. Frequent updates and provocative posts highlight hot button topics -- essential ingredients of a national Infra dialogue.