January 28, 2009


These days, we are repeatedly told that we have to pass a massive new infrastructure spending bill in order to fix our “crumbling” roads and bridges. Everyone seems to have forgotten that just three years ago, in August 2005, Congress enacted the biggest federal public works program in American history, spending a massive $286.4 billion on the 2005 highway bill. At that time, President Bush and congressional leaders from both parties told us that the new highway bill was needed to fix our infrastructure problems.

Before passing a new and potentially even bigger infrastructure spending bill, I would just like to know what happened to all that money Congress appropriated for the same purpose back in 2005? If that act succeeded in its purpose, it’s not clear why we need another huge federal infrastructure bill now, less than four years later. If it failed, we need to know why. . . .

I’m not categorically opposed to all federal highway spending. But before we enact a massive new infrastructure bill, we need a clear explanation of why the 2005 highway bill wasn’t enough, and why if it wasn’t we should expect better results this time around. So far, these questions have hardly been asked, much less answered.

It “failed” because it didn’t generate enough graft to satisfy everyone. Future bills, however large, will suffer the same fate because some people are never satisfied . . . .

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