Commentary

NOT an Immediate Jobs Program But a Proposal for Infrastructure Investment

In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, today the President proposed more infrastructure funding and some reforms to the surface and aviation programs. Supposedly it included a “long term vision” for the future investments in transportation infrastructure. A significant portion of the new investments would come from the “front loading” with a $50 billion in the first year.

Politico broke the story this morning saying while quoting a White House official was saying, “This is not an … immediate jobs plan. This is a six-year reauthorization that’s front-loaded. We’re not trying to put out an idea today that in October 2010 will be creating jobs.”

Some of the words sounded right such as: “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.”

Some of the main provisions 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.

Some things in the plan sound good, such as rebuilding roads and putting in place NextGen. (the next air traffic control system)

The devil will be in the details of the proposal of course. I am sure we will have plenty to say when we see those details. However, with Congress returning next week and only sixteen legislative days planned, it is difficult to see a resolution.

Shirley Ybarra is a former senior transportation policy analyst at Reason Foundation, a nonprofit think tank advancing free minds and free markets.