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The House Committee on Appropriations has now made available it’s American Recovery and Reinvestment plan. I’ve just skimmed the report thus far and it has a lot of infrastructure spending in it, but it also has a lot of projects of dubious value. Billions, apparently, are going to be spent on weatherstripping…and for broadband access for people in rural areas…and “technology” upgrades for our Internet-deprived school children, not to mention the $1.1 billion for “Healthcare Effectiveness Research.” In fact the more you look at it the more this proposal starts to look like what some are calling a yuppie bailout.
The Association of Equipment Manufacturers is tracking the legislation closely and has lots of details on its website.
Considering that a brand new administration and a new congress is going to have to make decisions on proposals that are going to total billions of dollars daily, would it be to much to ask that there were better planning going into this? As a construction journalist I admit I’m biased towards infrastructure. But then I also drove to work today on a public road, drank water from a public water works and used a good bit of coal-powered electricity from a public power company. Somebody explain to me how it is that giving kids faster video games at school (because you know that’s what they’re going to use it for) or doing research to find out if my doctor has a poor bedside manner rate as important as water, power and transportation.
Even hundreds of billions of dollars can be frittered away with little or no impact if it’s divided into too many portions. What this country really needs to do is focus on a handful of critical tasks and get those to work. My list: upgrade infrastructure (including transportation, water and power), start the country on the path toward light rail and support alternative energy vehicle technology with the goal of weaning us off foreign oil. Great leaders understand you have limit yourself to just a few big ideas. And the new congress and the new president need to show us some leadership before this thing explodes into a thousand points of uselessness.