"Widespread Highway Funding: ‘Stimulus That We Better Do Without’"
The Senate is planning to vote on amendments to the economic stimulus package today. As CQ reported:
The first amendment scheduled for debate is a proposal from Patty Murray, D‑Wash., and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., that would boost the bill’s highway funding from $27 billion to $40 billion and its transit funding from $8.4 billion to $13.4 billion.
While it would be great to boost transit funding by $5 billion, the simultaneous $13 billion boost in highway funding would exacerbate the already terrible ratio of transit to highway funds in the stimulus package.
There are legitimate repairs to troubled roads that should be made. But widespread spending on new highways will come back to bite us — down the line, the ramifications of encouraging more urban sprawl and gas consumption will hardly be worth the stimulus gained now. When the same stimulus dollars could be used to create construction jobs that lay the foundation for a green economy, it would be tragic to blow them buildings roads just for the sake of building roads.
As Dean Baker wrote, “some infrastructure spending will actually be harmful to the environment and the economy over the long-term. This is stimulus that we better do without.”