Monday, February 11, 2013


The answer to Neil Irwin's question is: You're kidding, right? Of course Congress is going to pass up this opportunity.
Is Congress really going to miss its free lunch on infrastructure?

... The early buzz from the White House is that ... the economy is a major focus of [President Obama's State of the Union] speech. In particular, he will call for new infrastructure investment....

Could Congressional Republicans be ready to sign on to some form of large-scale investment in the nation’s transportation and energy infrastructure?

... With interest rates near all-time lows and millions of construction workers unemployed, the last few years have been a time that it would have been a historical bargain for the United States to do upgrades to roads, bridges, and airports that will eventually need to take place anyway. It has been a political breakdown -- in particular conservatives' view of almost any non-defense federal spending as wasteful -- standing in the way.

... this is an area where there should be room for the two parties to work together. Business interests tend to favor new infrastructure spending, for both the benefits it brings for the companies that would like faster and more efficient ways to ship their goods and the construction companies that stand to make money actually building the stuff. Even small government conservatives want to have quality roads in their districts.

... One can easily imagine a deal: Democrats get their new infrastructure spending, and Republicans insist on a structure that requires private sector lenders to be co-investors in any projects, deploying money based on its potential return rather than where the political winds are tilting....
No, one cannot easily imagine that. Not unless one is ridiculously naive about the Republican Party.

First of all, CEOs don't care about infrastructure in the abstract -- they care about getting the infrastructure they want where they've set up shop. They don't give a crap about crumbling bridges five states away. They play state and local governments off against one another until they get what they need, in terms of infrastructure and -- more important -- in terms of tax and regulatory breaks. They want government to essentially subsidize whatever they're doing. They usually get what they want.

As for Republicans, they think what America critically needs is a massive redistribution of wealth to the wealthy -- that's much more important than repairing some roads. They want taxes on the rich slashed, regulations gutted, and Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security eviscerated. The way they're going to get that to happen is to keep the economy in the doldrums until Democrats are voted out or lose credibility. Republicans actually think we'll return to prosperity only if we go Randian -- nothing else will work, and Randianism absolutely will work. So they don't care about crumbling infrastructure. If we're not in the Rand Utopia, fixing infrastructure is irrelevant; if we get to the Rand Utopia, capitalist magic will make all the roads shiny and new.

So don't be silly, Neil. Of course this opportunity won't be seized.


Victor said...

Where has this guy been for the last, oh, I don't know, 4 years - or, in reality, for the last 19 years?

Modern Conservatism has two major lines of "thought:"
-Do the opposite of anything any Democrat or Liberal wants to do, and do anything you possibly can to retard any progress whatsoever, lest the Democrats get credit for it.
-Do ANY and EVERY thing you can to make the economy worse when Democrats are in charge, so that people feel that they have no choice but to vote for the Republicans - never mind that we're the cause of any and all problems, we'll have FOX and Rush provide cover, and the MSM will reflexively say that BOTH parties are responsible.

They have done NOTHING constructive for the country since the Civil Rights Acts, and supporting the EPA and OSHA under Nixon.

Reagan and both Bush's did NOTHING to this country except help to further feck things up for the poor and middle class by arranging for their money to be funneled up to the rich like that money was a bunch of loose dollar bills lying around the ground, getting sucked up in a tornado.

In the last 30+ years, they have done everything possible to reverse the progress it took 45 years to get.
And give the sociopaths some credit - they've been remarkably successful at what they've been doing.
Of course, betting on enough of 'We the people's' stupidity, ignorance, racism, misogyny, xenophobia, and/or homophobia, has proven to be a pretty good winning hand.

Examinator said...

I think the best way of putting it is in this Vid
Particularly when Susan summed up the Vulture capitalism's Modis opperandi
"they're not here to supply a service but here to make money". The consequences of that is the communications cartel in America
Pew of us would argue than Information is power or at least a chance to improve ones lot if one isn't born to the rich class.
It is interesting to note that in the US most of the Great Universities are for profit and how they use the school one attended as part of their club entry requirement.
If one looks at Australia they are a country of similar size (miles to cover)but less than 10% of the population (potential clients) yet THEY are about to roll out optic fibre to the public(houses) as a national infrastructure project! At a price of about $40 per month come the US can't do that. Oh yes it's a joint project between Fed govt and business. Once rolled out private entities will compete for home connections!
Additionally Most of the Prime Universities are Public institutions! Go figure? There are 2 projects up front.
Mind you I'm informed the conservative want to water this down to the node and therefore more privilege and more profit by locking in the consumer to specific suppliers. (US) f#$*&#g model

Pops said...

So if we go Full Randian will everyone be an Atheist and Pro Choice? After all Ayn Rand was both and believed Ronald Reagan was the Anti-Christ. Yea how could an Atheist believe in the Anti-Christ? We are still waiting for Paul Ryan to answer that question. As we all know he has "disavowed" that part of her philosophy. He only likes the money part now.

Tom said...

Our town finished a new fire station last spring. The winning bid was about 25% below the architect's estimate. And we got a 40 year mortgage with a very low interest rate through stimulus money (not free money, just the low rate). Yet people were griping that the fire district shouldn't be spending money in bad times, jobs be damned.