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Please Mr. President Not Another Infrastructure Spending Bill

Trump Tweet Infrastructure
Other than his frustrated outburst against Rep. Thomas Massie for asking for a vote on the $2 trillion-plus coronavirus relief bill we think President Trump has done a stellar job as a wartime president in the battle against the Wuhan virus and the attendant financial panic.

However, the President’s sudden receptivity to another trillion-dollar spending bill, this time in the form of some sort of national “infrastructure” renewal plan is starting to worry us.

Yesterday the President tweeted:

With interest rates for the United States being at ZERO, this is the time to do our decades long awaited Infrastructure Bill. It should be VERY BIG & BOLD, Two Trillion Dollars, and be focused solely on jobs and rebuilding the once great infrastructure of our Country! Phase 4

The President may have been responding to the trial balloon Speaker Pelosi launched on Monday in a conference call with reporters, “The president said during the campaign and since, infrastructure was a priority for him. So that’s why we believe that in terms of recovery, that’s probably the most bipartisan path that we can take.”

Unfortunately, President Trump must have missed the part where Pelosi said a “Phase 4” package could include spending on infrastructure and “more direct payments” to Americans.

Speaker Pelosi also said she would like to see the next bill feature more money to bailout state and local governments, increased protections for workers, more assistance for hospitals and nursing homes and “more opportunity for family and medical leave.”

In other words, the next Pelosi bill will probably include another trillion dollars to be allegedly spent on “infrastructure,” PLUS the whole laundry list of Leftwing policy that conservatives managed to fight off during passage of the first two bills.

This whole sorry “infrastructure” re-employment idea brings to mind something we wrote back in 2013 when Obama proposed his second big infrastructure-based stimulus bill:

Obama’s “Fix-It-First” program “to put people to work as soon as possible on our most urgent repairs, like the nearly 70,000 structurally deficient bridges across the country,” sounds an awful lot like his stimulus program from four years ago.

Americans who pay taxes will no doubt recall this $821 billion program was intended to put money into “shovel ready” government construction projects, such as roads, bridges and other “infrastructure” to put the unemployed to work and to stimulate private sector investment.

We will leave it to others to figure out how many unemployed real estate agents, interior decorators and others associated with the busted housing industry were ready to go to work building roads and bridges, but you get the point.

Despite Obama’s claims that such “investments” will stimulate private sector economic growth there’s no evidence that it actually worked. As conservative Congressman Steve Scalise, Chairman of the Republican Study Committee, pointed out, “Four years after President Obama signed his $821 billion taxpayer funded stimulus bill into law, American taxpayers are still paying the tab for the broken promises, and all we have to show for it are higher unemployment, higher debt, and higher taxes,” said Scalise.  “The president promised that unemployment would not rise above 8 percent with the passage of his spending bill, but in fact the unemployment rate remained above 8 percent for 43 straight months.”

The problem with the whole idea of using “infrastructure” projects to create jobs is that the jobs created are very likely not the kind of jobs that are needed to re-employ the unemployed, particularly in the present environment when much of the economic damage is due to government orders closing-down allegedly non-essential sectors of the economy.

Small business people whose shops and enterprises are closed, musicians, retail and restaurant workers and a host of others outside the information economy who are now unemployed are unlikely candidates for something like the Civilian Conservation Corps camps that were used to build infrastructure during the Great Depression.

After Obama’s big “infrastructure” spending bill someone said, “My dog has created more shovel ready jobs than Obama” and they were right. What’s needed now is not a new gravy train for unions, Democrat state and local governments and the various potential beneficiaries of government largess who are already deploying their lobbyists to Capitol Hill. What is needed is a plan to get Americans back to the jobs they had and the businesses they ran before these government-imposed lockdowns upended their lives.

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