Monday, September 6, 2010

Not Enough Is Not Enough

President Obama has proposed a $50 billion infrastructure program.

$50 billion isn't very much, on the scale of stimulus that folk such as Paul Krugman think necessary to stimulate the economy, and is minuscule with respect to the need for repair and maintenance of our current decaying infrastructure, much less creation of new infrastructure. The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates the need in the trillions of dollars.

What we have here, seems to me, is yet another compromise of what's actually needed in the name of the politically possible, against an opposition party that would claim Obama to be the product of an unnatural union between a seq urchin and a platypus if it could. No doubt, were the proposal to be, say, as big as that which bailed out the banks, or funded/funds the wars, it wouldn't have a chance. Today.

The counterargument from the left is that the presidency remains, and should be, a bully pulpit, that the president should fight for more, should not accept the current limitations on his ability to do the right thing, and should cast the opposition, if successful in blocking him, as responsible for the consequences. Further, if said $50 billion is, in fact, not enough, either to stimulate the economy or address infrastructure needs--if, as the soundbite would go, it's another failure--then it'd be easy for the Republicans to call it not a failure of insufficiency, but of yet another government overreach, squandering of tax revenue, increasing the deficit at the expense of the grandchildren and so on, and the media would lap it up.

So, is the $50 billion better than nothing? Is better than nothing enough?


Anonymous said...

It's better than nothing but no, it's not nearly enough.

ProfWombat said...

I'm afraid it'll be worse than nothing, a set-up for a political failure that'll make doing the right thing even harder.