Highway Bill Hits the Pothole of Politics

Our government loves to spend money, but not on really productive pursuits:

Washington’s focus on jobs and search for revenue keep transportation bill parked in Congress

The drumbeat of jobs, jobs, jobs in Washington and debate on financing have become major roadblocks to getting a six-year $500 billion transportation bill into gear and onto a fast-paced road to passage.

Infrastructure advocates argue that investment in transportation infrastructure is a sure-fire creator of jobs. There’s support for jobs and infrastructure on Capitol Hill, and the clamor for jobs will increase government investment in the latter. However, there’s no guarantee Congress will go further and address surface transportation’s long-term needs any time soon.

It’s true that transportation projects aren’t the quick job creators that some would like.  But people need continuous employment.  Beyond that, upgrading and maintaining our transportation system is necessary to insure the general productivity of our economy, which does create long term economic growth.  That’s a fact, and the political bias on both sides against transportation spending doesn’t change that.  Put another way, they will pay for themselves over time.  They’re an investment.

The favoured largesse is, of course, wealth transfer and entitlement payments.  But Sarah Palin fans take note: that “bridge to nowhere” she got caught up in during the 2008 campaign (and all of the other ones we see) will do more to improve the productivity and long-term well being of the country than the vast majority of entitlements.

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