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

Foreigners

The World’s Politest Protesters

The Occupy Central demonstrators are courteous. That’s actually what makes them so dangerous.

The Religious Right Is Not Happy With Republicans  

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:58 PM The Religious Right Is Not Happy With Republicans  

The Feds Have Declared War on Encryption—and the New Privacy Measures From Apple and Google

The One Fact About Ebola That Should Calm You

It spreads slowly.

These “Dark” Lego Masterpieces Are Delightful and Evocative

Crime

Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.

Politics

Talking White

Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.

Activists Are Trying to Save an Iranian Woman Sentenced to Death for Killing Her Alleged Rapist

Piper Kerman on Why She Dressed Like a Hitchcock Heroine for Her Prison Sentencing

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 1 2014 7:26 PM Talking White Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 2:16 PM Wall Street Tackles Chat Services, Shies Away From Diversity Issues 
  Life
Outward
Oct. 1 2014 6:02 PM Facebook Relaxes Its “Real Name” Policy; Drag Queens Celebrate
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 5:11 PM Celebrity Feminist Identification Has Reached Peak Meaninglessness
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 9:39 PM Tom Cruise Dies Over and Over Again in This Edge of Tomorrow Supercut
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 6:59 PM EU’s Next Digital Commissioner Thinks Keeping Nude Celeb Photos in the Cloud Is “Stupid”
  Health & Science
Science
Oct. 1 2014 4:03 PM Does the Earth Really Have a “Hum”? Yes, but probably not the one you’re thinking.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?