What's Our $1 Trillion Infrastructure Stimulus Going to Be Spent on?

A blog about business and economics.
Dec. 10 2013 3:51 PM

What's Our $1 Trillion Infrastructure Stimulus Going to Be Spent on?

180355655
What're we building again?

Photo by GREG WOOD/AFP/Getty Images

In the course of a somewhat puzzling QE-bashing article, conservative economist Martin Feldstein called for $1 trillion in public infrastructure spending as fiscal stimulus.

Since we've got conservatives calling for big government spending programs, let me play the role of conservative here and suggest that before you talk about $1 trillion infrastructure bill you should say something about what the money's going to be spent on. That kind of spending could be macroeconomically useful even if it's entirely wasted, but you could also just cut everyone a check for $3,000 per head and things would be much simpler. Does America really need $1 trillion of extra highway expansion projects? I'm skeptical. Meanwhile, a lot of progressive cities have hopped aboard a bizarre fad for building mixed-traffic streetcars that actually run slower than buses, since buses can at least switch lanes to avoid obstacles.

Now there are plenty of real infrastructure needs in this country, and it's absurd not to be doing stepped-up maintenance during a severe recession. But it's really irresponsible to just start flinging gigantic sums of money around without any kind of talk about what you want to spend the money on.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

TODAY IN SLATE

History

Slate Plus Early Read: The Self-Made Man

The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada. Now, Journalists Can’t Even Say Her Name.

Mitt Romney May Be Weighing a 2016 Run. That Would Be a Big Mistake.

Amazing Photos From Hong Kong’s Umbrella Revolution

Transparent Is the Fall’s Only Great New Show

The XX Factor

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada

Now, journalists can't even say her name.

Doublex

Lena Dunham, the Book

More shtick than honesty in Not That Kind of Girl.

What a Juicy New Book About Diane Sawyer and Katie Couric Fails to Tell Us About the TV News Business

Does Your Child Have Sluggish Cognitive Tempo? Or Is That Just a Disorder Made Up to Scare You?

  News & Politics
History
Sept. 29 2014 11:45 PM The Self-Made Man The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 29 2014 7:01 PM We May Never Know If Larry Ellison Flew a Fighter Jet Under the Golden Gate Bridge
  Life
Dear Prudence
Sept. 30 2014 6:00 AM Drive-By Bounty Prudie advises a woman whose boyfriend demands she flash truckers on the highway.
  Double X
Doublex
Sept. 29 2014 11:43 PM Lena Dunham, the Book More shtick than honesty in Not That Kind of Girl.
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 29 2014 8:45 AM Slate Isn’t Too Liberal, but … What readers said about the magazine’s bias and balance.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 29 2014 9:06 PM Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice Looks Like a Comic Masterpiece
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 30 2014 7:36 AM Almost Humane What sci-fi can teach us about our treatment of prisoners of war.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 30 2014 7:30 AM What Lurks Beneath The Methane Lakes of Titan?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 28 2014 8:30 PM NFL Players Die Young. Or Maybe They Live Long Lives. Why it’s so hard to pin down the effects of football on players’ lives.