I’m sure by now you’ve heard about Obama’s $50 billion public works plan:
Central to the plan is the president’s call for an “infrastructure bank,” which would be run by the government but would pool tax dollars with private investment, the White House says. Mr. Obama embraced the idea as a senator; with unemployment still high despite an array of government efforts, the concept has lately been gaining traction in policy circles and on Capitol Hill.
Indeed, some leading proponents of such a bank — including Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Republican of California; Gov. Ed Rendell, Democrat of Pennsylvania; and Michael R. Bloomberg, the independent mayor of New York — would like to see it finance a broader range of projects, including water and clean-energy projects. They say such a bank would spur innovation by allowing a panel of experts to approve projects on merit, rather than having lawmakers simply steer transportation money back home.
“It will change the way Washington spends your tax dollars,” Mr. Obama said here, “reforming the haphazard and patchwork way we fund and maintain our infrastructure to focus less on wasteful earmarks and outdated formulas, and more on competition and innovation that gives us the best bang for the buck.”
But the notion of a government-run bank — indeed, a government-run anything — is bound to prove contentious during an election year in which voters are furious over bank bailouts and over what many perceive as Mr. Obama pursuing a big government agenda. Even before the announcement Monday, Republicans were expressing caution.
“It’s important to keep in mind that increased spending — no matter the method of delivery — is not free,” said Representative Pat Tiberi, an Ohio Republican who is on a Ways and Means subcommittee that held hearings on the bank this year. He warned that “federally guaranteed borrowing and lending could place taxpayers on the hook should the proposed bank fail.”
After months of campaigning on the theme that the president’s $787 billion stimulus package was wasteful, Republicans sought Monday to tag the new plan with the stimulus label. The Republican National Committee called it “stimulus déjà vu,” and Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the House Republican whip, characterized it as “yet another government stimulus effort.”
I will never cease to be amazed by the way that in the US suspicion towards government projects seems to disappear when they involve the military and are beyond the shores of the country.