Friday, June 27, 2014

Infrastructure Spending and the Republicans

From the current issue of the Economist - Bridging the Gap: For a country where everyone drives, America has shoddy roads.  Think about a infomercial ASCE could put together - ask foreign vacationers about the sad state of our public infrastruction.  Get someone like a Ricky Gervais in a Mini with a camera and have him put some miles on our highways.  Log the really bad miles and then have him stop by for a sit down at the state capital.  Maybe he is wearing a "Show Us You Mean It" t-shirt.

"Because the problem is so big, people assume that the federal government must be responsible, says Robert Puentes of the Brookings Institution, a think-tank. In fact, he argues, other levels of government are going to have to find the money required. This is starting to happen. Some states add their own petrol taxes to the federal government’s one. Eight of them, including some deep-red places such as Wyoming, put them up last year. Virginia has increased its sales tax to pay for infrastructure. Michigan’s governor, Rick Snyder, proposed raising taxes to spend an additional $1 billion a year on infrastructure. When voters are asked about infrastructure projects in ballot initiatives they back them about 75% of the time, according to the Centre for Transportation Excellence, which keeps count.

For more of this to happen, Republicans—who control most statehouses and governorships—will have to stay their urge to shrink government and cut taxes. The party often argues that the federal government should spend less and let the states make more decisions about how to tax and spend. On infrastructure at least they have got their wish. Now is the time for them to show that they mean it."

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