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More Details, Such as They Are, on President’s Infrastructure Plan

By | Infrastructure, Labor Unions | No Comments

We looked for background material this morning to accompany the President’s speech at the AFL-CIO’s Laborfest in Milwaukee, where he announced and briefly discussed a proposal to spend $50 billion on infrastructure. There’s a little, here and there.

A transcript of the President’s speech is here.

There’s a two-and-a-half page summary sheet, available via a blog post by the vice president’s economic adviser, Jared Bernstein, entitled, “Let’s Stop Torturing Facts and Start Working Together.” (How’s that for extending hand of cooperation?)

Excerpt from fact sheet:

This plan would build on the investments we have already made under the Recovery Act, create jobs for American workers to strengthen our economy now, and increase our nation’s growth and productivity in the future. At the same time, the plan would reform the way America currently invests in transportation, changing our focus to enhancing competition, innovation, performance, and real analysis that gets taxpayers the best bang for the buck, while moving away from the earmarks and formula debates of the past. In prior years, transportation infrastructure was an issue that both parties worked on together, and the Administration hopes the same can be true now.

Some of the tangible accomplishments of the President’s plan over the next six years include:

  • ROADS: Rebuild 150,000 miles of roads – renewing our commitment to the backbone of our transportation system;
  • RAILWAYS: Construct and maintain 4,000 miles of rail – enough to go coast-to-coast;
  • RUNWAYS: Rehabilitate or reconstruct 150 miles of runway – while putting in place a NextGen system that will reduce travel time and delays.

Note to White House writers: Prolepsis notwithstanding, it’s not a “tangible accomplishment” until it actually happens.

At the Department of Transportation’s website, we don’t find any additional information on the President’s proposal. (Searched at 7:37 a.m., Tuesday.) There’s a Distracted Driving Summit coming up, through.

Senior White House advisers on Monday briefed reporters on the proposal. From Politico, “President Obama unveils $50 billion road, rail plan“:

Senior administration officials, in a conference call with reporters Monday morning, would not say whether they would push Congress to pass a bill before the end of 2010.

“These types of reauthorizations have always been a substantial undertaking,” one official said. “This one is particularly ambitious because of the front loading and the set of reforms.”

Under the best-case scenario, however, jobs would be created in 2011, the official said. “This is not an … immediate jobs plan. This is a six-year reauthorization that’s front-loaded,” according to the senior administration official. “We’re not trying to put out an idea today that in October 2010 will be creating jobs.”

Oh. But the surface transportation authorization expired on Sept. 30, 2009. As the National Governors Association summarized:

Comprehensive federal laws and regulations that guide national surface transportation policies and programs expired in September 2009. While the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (P.L. 111-5) provided one-time funding for highway and transit infrastructure spending, Congress has not passed a long-term authorization.

The National Association of Manufacturers regards investment in infrastructure as a central responsibility of the federal government and a competitive imperative, as covered in our NAM ManuFact. The economic value of investing  in infrastructure was a central thrust of the Milken Institute study the NAM released in January, 2010, “Jobs for America: Investments and policies for economic growth and competitiveness,” and the NAM prominently cites the need for infrastructure investment in our policy guide and call to action, “Manufacturing Strategy for Jobs and a Competitive America.”

Circumnetting Infrastructure

By | Economy, Inauguration '09 | One Comment

Wall Street Journal, White House Under Fire for Unspent Infrastructure Cash“: “The Obama administration has paid out less than a third of the nearly $230 billion allocated to big infrastructure projects in the economic-stimulus program.”

Michael Barone, The Examiner, “Big government forgets how to build big projects,” comparing the construction of the Pentagon in WWII to a little bridge being rebuilt over an inlet on the Potomac. Both, 18 months: “Big government has become a big, waddling, sluggish beast, ever ready to boss you around, but not able to perform useful functions at anything but a plodding pace. It needs to be slimmed down and streamlined, so it can get useful things done fast.”

Washington Post editorial, “Stimulus programs hobbled by regulations“: “[Lawmakers] could carefully exempt projects in any future stimulus from burdensome regulatory requirements, even if those requirements make more sense in calmer times.” Even? It’s also possible they don’t make sense at any time.

Harold Meyerson, Washington Post, “Rebuilding the Democratic brand with jobs, “If the Democrats focused on boosting manufacturing, with a corollary upgrade to our infrastructure, they’d tap into the only area in which the public wants a more activist government.” Trouble is, an activist government tends to make manufacturing less competitive globally.

White House blog, “Obama Administration Officials Continue to Visit State Fairs,” announcing Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood’s attendance at the Illinois State Fair Friday, Aug. 20, “As part of the Illinois State Fair ‘Futures for Kids Day,’ Secretary LaHood will join law enforcement and traffic safety advocates for the 2010 kickoff of Operation Teen Safe Driving Illinois. Secretary Lahood will tour agricultural exhibits, visit the Illinois State Police Tent, and meet with high school students who have been helping to spread the word about the dangers of distracted driving.” We begrudge no one a trip to the state fair.

Wichita Eagle, “Grant may pay for bike lanes downtown“: “A federal grant that the city is poised to apply for could add miles of bike paths to the downtown area and convert four one-way streets downtown to two-way streets. Under the proposed grant application, the city would pay $10.5 million to leverage $24.5 million in federal money that is part of the TIGER II program.” What federal hand or eye could fund this fearful symmetry?

CNSNews.com, “White House Directive: Erect Signs at All Stimulus Projects as ‘Symbol of President Obama’s Commitment to American People’“: “The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration also issued guidance to ARRA [stimulus] recipients encouraging but not requiring that signs be posted at job sites.”

CBC News, “Feds flexible on stimulus funding deadline“: “The [Canadian] federal government is giving municipalities a bit of wiggle room on its deadline to receive infrastructure stimulus funding. The $4-billion federal program provides cash to shovel-ready provincial and municipal projects — provided they can be completed before March 31, 2011.”

Friday Factory Tune: Bulldozers and Dirt

By | Communications, Friday Follies, General | No Comments

In light of the White House-Congress-Big Labor deal to give unions an exemption from the excise tax on “Cadillac health plans,” we wanted to post the Drive By Truckers doing “Carl Perkins Cadillac,” but the quality is poor. Instead, here’s Bulldozers and Dirt (with a little bit of off-color language).

And here’s DBT’s Patterson Hood doing “George Jones Talking Cell Phone Blues,” which should appropriately be the theme song for the U.S. Department of Transportation’s alliance with activists groups to ban cell phone use in cars. Seriously. It’s a campaign of full-blown prohibition.