Infrastructure Stimulum

By October 29, 2008Economy, Infrastructure

NAM President John Engler is testifying this morning (9:30 a.m.) before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, a hearing entitled, “Investing in Infrastructure: The Road to Recovery.” (We’ll post the testimony once the hearing starts.)

The estimable Washington Post economics columnist, Robert Samuelson, writes about a second round of stimulus today, “Stimulus For the Long Haul,” seeing general worth in the proposition but warning against political “self-indulgence,” that is, tax cuts. OK, well, how about making sure to extend the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts so taxpayers — individuals and businesses — don’t get hit with a huge increase in 2010?

As for infrastructure spending, Samuelson includes it in a list of policy perhaps:

Americans saved perhaps three-quarters of the personal tax cuts that were the centerpiece of the stimulus. The same might happen with new tax cuts. One popular idea to aid states and localities with money for roads and other infrastructure improvements might take so long to begin that it would provide little immediate economic boost. Moreover, the economy does have self-correcting mechanisms. Lower home prices already show signs of spurring more buying. Falling oil prices now provide some support for consumer spending.

Debating infrastructure as economic stimulus misses the fundamental point, we think: Infrastructure represents a long-term investment needed to ensure U.S. economic competitiveness. The projects with the most economic value as stimulus — ready to go, labor-intensive plans — may not be the most meritorious ones when considered in the context of competitiveness.

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