I’m going to foreword this post with a note that I understand there’s a decent chance that I have no idea what I’m talking about. But, I need to express the ideas anyway, and here’s the right place!
A few thoughts on a potential economic stimulus package, inspired by a few articles like this from the New York Times, talking about potential problems with an infrastructure-based stimulus package.
According to the article,
Some have suggested that Mr. Obama should push for infrastructure spending, to repair roads and bridges and sewer systems, as a way to stimulate the economy and provide jobs while attacking long-term problems. …But an infrastructure bill could easily degenerate into a pork-laden measure that benefits regions with powerful lawmakers, rather than serious needs.
This is a major potential problem. However, it’s also one that Obama has specifically said he’s against. Recently there have been national surveys of infrastructure (especially roads and bridges in light of the recent Minnesota(?) collapse) needs. I think they were even ranked.
A stimulus program needs to be need-based. The data is already there, conducted by engineers during a process which, if there was any “powerful lawmaker”-based bias, would likely have trended towards making a need look not as severe. (Maybe. I’m actually not convinced of this.) With the announcement of a stimulus package, there would be no opportunity for the existing data to be modified by political influence, because the study (and ranking, hopefully) is done.
So, you announce $100 billion of infrastructure projects and associated jobs, and say that the projects will be determined by the existing infrastructure surveys, projects in worse condition first.
The stimulus will likely be weighted towards population centers, but could provide jobs for anyone willing to temporarily relocate to work, just as artisans from all over the place descended on Connecticut to build bridges for the Merritt Parkway during the New Deal.
As the NYTimes article says, investing in infrastructure is the perfect way to create jobs now while achieving significant, essential projects for the future.