The House is expected to vote next week on the $825 billion economic stimulus package. Republicans are demanding that Obama reduce some of the investments in spending currently contained in the package. But, as Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) noted, “Right now, what would be considered traditional infrastructure constitutes about 7.5 percent of the total $800 billion-plus expenditure.” Approximately 33 percent of the stimulus is for tax cuts. Rep. Jim Oberstar (D-MN) revealed that funding for mass transit projects was cut to make room for the tax cuts:
The reason for the reduction in overall funding — we took money out of Amtrak and out of aviation; we took money out of the Corps of Engineers, reduced the water infrastructure program, the drinking water and the wastewater treatment facilities and sewer lines, reduced that from $14 billion to roughly $9 billion — was the tax cut initiative that had to be paid for in some way by keeping the entire package in the range of $850 billion.
As the Wonk Room has noted, investments in infrastructure provide a better bang for the buck than tax cuts. Every $10 billion in taxpayer money that goes towards extending the Bush tax cuts would create or save just 10,000 jobs. By comparison, nearly 60,000 jobs could be created or saved by investing directly in energy, transportation and education infrastructure.