So Much for a “Shovel-Ready,” Infrastructure-Focused Stimulus

I had the pleasure of speaking on a panel yesterday at the Dow Jones Infrastructure Summit regarding infrastructure and the stimulus package. Keenen Skelly at the Wall Street Journal‘s Private Equity Beat blog summarized our discussion here:

Investors and lawmakers attending the Dow Jones Infrastructure Summit Thursday weren’t particularly enthused about the $30 billion that President Barack Obama’s administration has slated for infrastructure in its economic stimulus package.

Their biggest issue: it simply isn’t enough, not coming anywhere close to the $2 trillion estimated to be needed to help the U.S.’s infrastructure catch up to that in many other developed nations.

“The stimulus is a down payment,” said Patrick Natale, executive director of the American Society of Civil Engineers, which gave U.S. infrastructure a grade of D- in 2008. “It’s a start but there’s a lot more to do.”

At the same time, however, they have some issues with how the money is intended to be spent, worrying that the national government is exerting too much control by handing out money to a few select programs. Infrastructure needs might be better served if states were left to figure out on their own what was needed to improve infrastructure, with some federal oversight. […]

Still others think that the stimulus bill is ill-advised in regards to infrastructure, because it does nothing to addess the economic needs of the nation over the long run.

The stimulus bill is not focused on true, long-term needs,” said Leonard Gilroy, director of government reform at the Reason Foundation. “I don’t see it as making the U.S. more economically competitive.

Reason’s Transportation Research and Commentary