Obama to propose $50 billion in infrastructure spending for stimulus

posted at 10:30 am on September 6, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

What happens when over a hundred billion dollars in borrowed cash gets plunged into infrastructure spending and it fails to kick-start the economy?  According to this administration, spend another $50 billion on the same failed policy.  Barack Obama will unveil his new economic stimulus plan in Wisconsin today, while Russ Feingold looks for a place to hide:

US President Barack Obama unveils plans Monday to spend at least 50 billion dollars to expand and renew US roads, railways and airports, in a fresh bid to fire up sluggish economic growth.

Obama, under intense pressure over November’s mid-term congressional elections in which his Democrats fear heavy losses, was set to make the announcement in a speech in Wisconsin, an official said. …

A White House official said that the “bold” infrastructure plan will be front loaded and make significant investments in the first year, in a bid to stimulate the sagging economy and boost jobs growth.

It appeared unlikely however that Obama could get the plan passed through Congress before the mid-term elections.

Don’t be too sure it won’t pass Congress before November.  Transportation bills like this give Capitol Hill denizens plenty of opportunity to get pork for their home districts and states.  In this election cycle, pork may be all Democrats can use as an argument for re-election.  They certainly larded the first stimulus bill with plenty of home-town pork, and with $50 billion more in borrowed cash, don’t expect them to be shy the second time around.

However, don’t expect it to work, either.  The original Porkulus had $105 billion in so-called “infrastructure investments,” and none of it produced any economic growth.  Transportation accounted for $48 billion; energy infrastructure and R&D got the same amount of money.  Housing got $10 billion.  Front loaded or not, the money got allocated and borrowed, and we’re back to flatlining economic growth just eighteen months later — only now we have a lot more debt on top of the other problems we had.

Just a few days ago, Obama called for new ideas on how to restart American growth.  So far, all he’s offering us is the same failed and expensive Keynesianism that he tried in February 2009.  This is a White House in desperate need of a Plan B, which instead insists on retrying Plan A over and over again in the hope that it might work once.

Update: Commenter PattyJ wonders if anyone actually saw “infrastructure” being built from the original Porkulus.  Sure, I did; I did a couple of driving trips through Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Kansas, and Missouri over the past year and saw plenty of ARRA signs on road construction projects.  One local project closed an important freeway interchange for two months when it didn’t even have surface issues to repair.  Most of them were just accelerated wish-list projects that were not needed and didn’t produce any lasting jobs at all.  That was certainly the case for that remodeled interchange.


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The TITANIC 2,is sailing,destination,another Icebreg!

And Capt’n Smith,er Hopey wants another boat-load of cash,
and,I already thought,Obama had `’Shovel Ready Jobs’!!

So,what kind of scam is Team Liberal up to!!

canopfor on September 6, 2010 at 8:49 PM

Mr. Obama also used Monday’s appearance here to deliver a hearty defense of his policies and take a few whacks at Republicans. “They talk about me like a dog,” the president said. “That’s not in my prepared remarks, but it’s true.” And Mr. Obama repeatedly referred to the House Republican leader, Representative John Boehner, as “the man who wants to be speaker.”


GINNING UP THE BASE THEIR MISTER PRESIDENT?

PappyD61 on September 6, 2010 at 8:50 PM

unbelievable…..whats another $509 billion in tax money from the rich…except of course, unless you are a UNION boss or Cabinet Member with Team Muslim, then you don’t pay taxes…..

UUUUUUGGGGGHHHHHH!

SDarchitect on September 6, 2010 at 8:50 PM

GINNING UP THE BASE THEIR MISTER PRESIDENT?

PappyD61 on September 6, 2010 at 8:50 PM

PappyD61: Exactly,sending out ‘talk’n point orders’,for
Operation Grand Distraction to his Union Goons!:)

canopfor on September 6, 2010 at 8:59 PM

Anybody see any actual infrastructure built?

PattyJ on September 6, 2010 at 10:38 AM

Not under O “signs”, but yes, it makes me sick; half the year have to be a careful driver dealing with the snow; the other half I can barely drive because they’re always doing crap on the road. Or on the sides. Or making it next to impossible to get to businesses.

By the time they’re done, the end of fall will be here and then, voilá! My folks on my neck of the woods have to make sure we don’t ruin The Magick./sorry it’s been annoying since it stopped snowing.

ProudPalinFan on September 6, 2010 at 9:00 PM

Hey Prezbo and Congress, QUIT SPENDING!

GFW on September 6, 2010 at 9:14 PM

Hi, I went to the comment section of one of the newspapers in Puerto Rico about this same issue. There’s only eight comments, but it’s 6/2 against Obama. I am very impressed with my fellow Puerto Ricans. They KNOW what’s happening!

The information I do need to dig from there-out of mere curiosity-is that they claim the stimulus that was granted to Puerto Rico, a chunk of it disappeared and that the Governor (PR-R) has not spent the whole thing, nor they see work done…coincidence? BTW in Puerto Rico they don’t mince words.

Translations of some comments below:
===========================================================
1-It can’t be any truer that this fellow and his advisers are a bunch of imbeciles. When does a TEMPORARY job (road construction, etc.) generates long-term employment?? You have to be way more than a moron to believe that doing the SAME THING that has failed, will change things. These idiots don’t understand that spending BILLIONS in unnecessary constructions only generate income for the illegal immigrants for a couple of weeks. At the end, who benefits from all this? The airlines, Amtrax and constructions’ contractors.

2-This president is the worst political liar I have ever seen. He talks a lot and does nothing. He’s worse than Bush. I thought he was going to fix the economy and what he’s done is help the banks and wall street.

3-nobody is noticing anything???? The US is extremely broke (thanks to Obama), and now add ANOTHER $50 BILLIONS to the debt. I wanna know HOW this is going to be paid. Now that debt will be there for years and years.

ProudPalinFan on September 6, 2010 at 9:25 PM

The only thing “Government Stimulus” is stimulating…

…is the Government.

Which, I guess, to BHO and his patronizing, paternalistic brethren, is the point, after all.

IndieDogg on September 6, 2010 at 9:30 PM

$50 more, after bankrupting this country on a ‘stimulus’ that’s little more than a political package to fortify leftist infrastructure?

What now?

~More windmills that power nothing when wind isn’t blowing?

~Electric cars no one will buy?

~High speed trains no one will use?

~Perpetual motion machines that only Rube Goldberg knows how to invent.

petefrt on September 6, 2010 at 9:37 PM

Update: Commenter PattyJ wonders if anyone actually saw “infrastructure” being built from the original Porkulus. Sure, I did; I did a couple of driving trips through Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Kansas, and Missouri over the past year and saw plenty of ARRA signs on road construction projects. One local project closed an important freeway interchange for two months when it didn’t even have surface issues to repair. Most of them were just accelerated wish-list projects that were not needed and didn’t produce any lasting jobs at all. That was certainly the case for that remodeled interchange.

Ed,

I agree with most of the commenters here that a second round of stimulus spending is rather ridiculous at this point, particularly if the infrastructure spending is targeted and programmed the same way as the first round.

Very wasteful.

However the projects that you and others have commented on where a roadway was repaired that didn’t seem to have (in your words) “any surface issues”, in fact, probably was in need of repair, and was not a bad use of the funds.

Over the long-term it is more efficient and cheaper to repair roads when they are still decent shape, before they require a more extensive reconstruction.

That is why you will see some roads with pavement in decent shape being repaired while roads that seem worse are not repaired- if you concentrate on the roads that are still in relatively good shape you can keep your overall road network in better condition for the same amount of money, than if you just concentrated on the roads in the poorest condition. Once a road hits poor condition further deterioration occurs at a realtively slower pace.

The long term strategy is to eventually get ahead of the game for your overall network, then come back and fix the roads in the poorest condition.

I’ve done some modeling of pavement deterioration myself, and I know several true experts in the field, and this strategy is almost universally accepted by all of them.

Most of the engineers, technicians, planners and economists who work in this the transportation field take their jobs rather seriously (if they are allowed to by the politicians).

I suspect most of the pavement projects people have seen were legit projects, and not make-work, as some here have implied.

Unfortunately a lot of the ARRA infrastructure funds were hijacked, either by Green groups (alternative energy, bike trails, light rail, etc.) or by pols (economic development projects, “bridges to nowhere”, etc.) and a variety of other special interest groups. Very wasteful.

If this actually goes through it would behoove people to press their elected reps and local officials to at least make sure the money is well spent and not wasted on the aforementioned garbage projects.

Dreadnought on September 6, 2010 at 10:29 PM

Bleeding the patient hasn’t helped, let’s try leeches.
-Dr’s Krugman, Obama, and Fein

motionview on September 6, 2010 at 10:37 PM

Check this out, from PA (my neck of the woods) prices of these road signs.

I wrote back to my fellows in PR because they KNOW what we went through with those road signs; all signs but no work. Same ammo.

ProudPalinFan on September 6, 2010 at 10:40 PM

Check this out, from PA (my neck of the woods) prices of these road signs.

I wrote back to my fellows in PR because they KNOW what we went through with those road signs; all signs but no work. Same ammo.

ProudPalinFan on September 6, 2010 at 10:40 PM

The placement of these ARRA signs should be a much larger issue than it has been made out to be, at this point.

It is scandalous that this kind of money has been spent on these (barely) camouflaged advertisements for Obama and the Democratic Party.

And I suspect that the upper end of the range of costs that you see for the placement of these signs are actually the more accurate estimates. It’s outrageous-horribly unnecessary, wasteful and corrupt.

Dreadnought on September 6, 2010 at 10:54 PM

Dreadnought on September 6, 2010 at 10:54 PM

I called all of you on it, I gave you all warning signs, but nobody listened. This same situation happened back in PR, so I provided the same link there; that should get ‘em going.

Some still carry the same “BLAME BOOSH!” thingy so I wanted to put things into perspective. They know what happens here affects them there.

ProudPalinFan on September 6, 2010 at 10:59 PM

The placement of these ARRA signs should be a much larger issue than it has been made out to be, at this point.

It is scandalous that this kind of money has been spent on these (barely) camouflaged advertisements for Obama and the Democratic Party.

Not disagreeing with you at all. The placement of the ones in my community won’t help the Dems much, though.

Our “main street” has been shut down all summer, with a huge ARRA sign proudly and prominently displayed at each end of the closure. There was nothing wrong with the street, and everybody knows it. Doesn’t look likely that the “work” will be done by the 11/2, either. ROTFLMAO

ElectricPhase on September 6, 2010 at 11:16 PM

More payola for the unions so they can get the thuds out to vote.

workingforpigs on September 6, 2010 at 11:47 PM

Epic Fail + More Fail = A Windfall of Fail.

Thanks for nothing, Jug-eared Jesus.

hillbillyjim on September 7, 2010 at 1:05 AM

He’s scratching his head with the wrong finger.

Mr. Grump on September 7, 2010 at 6:42 AM

He’s scratching his head with the wrong finger.

Mr. Grump on September 7, 2010 at 6:42 AM

heh

cmsinaz on September 7, 2010 at 7:36 AM

Where’s this money going? More for ACORN or whatever the hell they changed their name to avoid prosecution? Cloward-Piven in action. Those two names should be included on every roadsign just so Americans can see where the country is really bleeding, and for what reason. Communist takeover.

adamsmith on September 7, 2010 at 7:46 AM

Where’s this money going?

adamsmith on September 7, 2010 at 7:46 AM

Unions, so they can then turn around and spend it for the upcoming election.

Obama is a Marxist and crook extraordinare, as are his cronies in Congress.

darwin on September 7, 2010 at 8:11 AM

Please forgive me if this has been mentioned already. Back in July of 2005, a massive 300 BILLION dollar highway spending bill was passed. I can’t imagine all that money has been fully spent. Hey, maybe there is 50 billion left to apply to this. I am so tired of the taxpayers being used by the politicians in DC as a piggy bank that never runs out of money.

michaele on September 7, 2010 at 8:44 AM

Back in July of 2005, a massive 300 BILLION dollar highway spending bill was passed. I can’t imagine all that money has been fully spent.

michaele on September 7, 2010 at 8:44 AM

michaele … money under the guise of “stimulus” is being filtered to unions to pay for the upcoming 2010 and 1012 elections. There’s been no accountability.

darwin on September 7, 2010 at 8:49 AM

The problem in the economy isn’t money, anyway. Fixing what isn’t broke and ignoring what is just makes things worse.

Regards,
Ric

warlocketx on September 7, 2010 at 8:59 AM

Yes, well Olympia and Suzie will be for sale to the highest bidder on this one. Others too I should guess. I wonder if the day will ever come when they are able to put the whole ahead of it’s parts? That’s why Obama chose it. He knows the weak links and he’s counting on them. One does have to marvel though at how determined he is to destroy himself and his Party.(and the rest of us along side)

jeanie on September 7, 2010 at 9:01 AM

Keynesians believe that infrastructure projects during a recession are a good idea, and they’re a better idea when they’re not needed–the example Keynes used in his General Theory was that of paying one group of men to dig a hole in the ground, and a different group of men to fill it back in.

Meanwhile, a saner economist such as myself will tell you that infrastructure projects that are needed should be undertaken in a recession, for two reasons: 1) goods and labor are cheaper, and thus it will save the government money, and 2) when undertaken without full employment, there is no “crowding out” of private spending. (Notice that “stimulating the economy” is not among them.) The key here, though, is to ensure that the improvements would be needed recession or no–otherwise it’s just a waste of capital.

hicsuget on September 7, 2010 at 9:02 AM

Keynesians believe that infrastructure projects during a recession are a good idea

Throw back to the WPA. It helped then, not so sure it will help this time. Back then prices of materials and labor etc etc dropped too–they haven’t this time.

jeanie on September 7, 2010 at 9:14 AM

Obama proposes $arfarfbowwowbark.

maverick muse on September 7, 2010 at 9:18 AM

Keynesians believe that infrastructure projects during a recession are a good idea

Keynes himself said that taxing during an economic downturn is wrong.

Politicians conveniently quote Keynes to support spending by big gov but ignore when inconvenient.

maverick muse on September 7, 2010 at 9:20 AM

Throw back to the WPA. It helped then, not so sure it will help this time. Back then prices of materials and labor etc etc dropped too–they haven’t this time.

jeanie on September 7, 2010 at 9:14 AM

Huge cultural differentiation to note, whether politically correct or not: the WPA hired unemployed American CITIZENS, usually “white” labor, trained for work by the military.

maverick muse on September 7, 2010 at 9:22 AM

Also back in the 30s the folks hired for these infrastructure jobs were just out of work guys. This time round it will only be union people. How’s that a stimulus? It’s not. It’s just pork for the unions. and…the suppliers will see a bonanza and raise the prices of materials. Bah humbug!! It won’t work, it hasn’t got a chance.

jeanie on September 7, 2010 at 9:24 AM

A major road project in my hometown has recently begun. The project has been in the plans for years, and had been budgeted for. Needless to say, signs popped up all over the place informing us serfs that the Recovery and Investment Act (Union slush fund) made it possible.

darwin on September 7, 2010 at 9:37 AM

Update: Commenter PattyJ wonders if anyone actually saw “infrastructure” being built from the original Porkulus.

Lots of improvements on the Baltimore-Washington Parkway in DC… Lots of improvements on the Interstate Highway that cuts through Washington DC between the I-295 and the Potomac River… A new trolley car system running from the north gate of the Anacostia Annex Navy Base to Downtown DC… Each with an EXPENSIVE sign touting the projects…

Khun Joe on September 7, 2010 at 9:37 AM

What is it about these people and trains? Talk about being out of touch with the American people! The train-culture is a European thing, they’re big in Asia too, but Americans have rejected trains as a means of people transportation since the development of the inter-state highway system in the 1950′s and yet Dems are obsessed with building subsidized rail systems that nobody wants and that nobody will use. People are crying out for jobs and a re-energized economy and they offer as a bright, new, shiny choo-choo train instead!

Trafalgar on September 7, 2010 at 9:53 AM

He (Obama) just won’t do right. He won’t do it.

He is a worthless, dangerous ideologue who won’t be stopped until we stop him (November).

There will be no “era of big gov’t is over speech” from this pansy. It will be whine, whine, whine all the time. It’s all he knows how to do.

Even if Obama does “go with the flow” after the Republican majority, he and Michelle will still be thrown out in 12′ by an American public who will NOT stomach a “I’m just here for the perks” Presidency.

David2.0 on September 7, 2010 at 9:58 AM

What is it about these people and trains?

Trafalgar on September 7, 2010 at 9:53 AM

Trains are needed when rural and suburban living become outlawed, along with fossil fuel vehicles.

I’m not joking. You should see the UN’s plans for habitat enforcement in the US. They have green, red and yellow zones. Green is all urban, where 95% of people will be forced to live. Yellow is sparce habitation, for farmers and under permit only … red is zero habitaion.

darwin on September 7, 2010 at 9:59 AM

darwin on September 7, 2010 at 9:59 AM

Oh, I believe it alright! Trains are a relatively cheap and quick method for concentrating the population and controlling it. The Germans had a highly efficient rail system for doing just that in the 1940′s. Of course, the tickets were all one-way.

Trafalgar on September 7, 2010 at 10:13 AM

Repeating the same behavior and expecting a different result is the classic definition of insanity.

dogsoldier on September 7, 2010 at 10:14 AM

If we did become a public tranportation oriented culture it could have the long term good effect of making those folks who do stick it out in the country more self sufficient the way it used to be when we were rural society. The rest can live in those habitats you see in the sci fi movies and all look, sound dress and think alike. Like a series of great bee hives or ant farms. Wouldn’t our great leader like that!! Especially since he will be able to afford better. Forgive me for this next those of you who live in the places I’m gong to mention. But…..I often think how much I would hate to live in those Maryland and Virginia burbs and gated communities that surround DC and provide its work force. I have family in one of these and visit now and then. Except for their company, I can’t wait to leave. Reminds me of the eastern mill villages my forebears lived in back in the day. But, these at least were surrounded by farm land.

jeanie on September 7, 2010 at 10:32 AM

What is it about these people and trains?

Trafalgar on September 7, 2010 at 9:53 AM

Some of them have fantasies about population control. Some think tossing the rail system for a dependability on foreign oil from the blue-collar class up wasn’t such a bright idea. And some are just going along with the first group.

Dark-Star on September 7, 2010 at 12:35 PM

Wait a minute. Wasn’t that first $800 Billion stimulus supposed to be all about “shovel-ready” projects? And THAT money hasn’t been spent yet, at least not all of it. So another $50 Billion wouldn’t be even relevant. Plus, it could only be spent on projects that are years away from starting. So it wouldn’t help the economy now anyway.

I used to say “How dumb does he think we are?” But now I think it’s simply that he’s dumb. He really seems to believe this nonsense. That’s scarier.

Zumkopf on September 7, 2010 at 12:42 PM

This proposal is a dog, and it won’t hunt. It certainly won’t flush out any votes.

flataffect on September 7, 2010 at 1:38 PM

jon1979 on September 6, 2010 at 11:01 AM

Talking about I-25 North and South of Albuquerque, perchance? I saw that too.

nmlaw2012 on September 7, 2010 at 6:51 PM

I’m sure it’s already been said in this thread, but all it is, is “donation” money for the unions to contribute to all the “D” re/election funds. Nonexistent slush money to go to a nonexistent contender, with a nonexistent follow-up report as to where it went. Yah, sure.

thebookkeeper on September 7, 2010 at 9:59 PM

The timing of the proposals are genius if you want to keep the business community unsettled. All uncertainty all the time! This Obama fellow is a wrecking ball on steroids.

Metanis on September 8, 2010 at 9:18 AM

Its just something the Dems can say they arent supporting. Its a farce to give them a reason to get a vote.

johnnyU on September 8, 2010 at 12:30 PM

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