President Obama loves to invest in infrastructure. He has been asking for a $50 billion in "frontloaded" investments to repair bridges and roads for the past four years. The State of the Union address last week was no exception. His latest name for the plan--notice he doesn't use the term "stimulus"--is "Fix It First." The money would be targeted to the most urgent upgrades, "like the nearly 70,000 structurally deficient bridges across the country."
Not to be a downer, but Obama is living a fantasy. Congress has consistently rejected this proposal for years. I think he knows it, too, given that "Fix It First" got one sentence in the actual speech.
Republicans were ready with their rejections. Even before Obama's speech, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said he hoped the president wouldn't ask for investments. "Every time he uses the word 'investment,' the American people will hear the word 'spending,' government spending," he said.
We have covered this topic on the blog many times. In honor of the SOTU madness, let's do it once more with feeling: Is an immediate investment in infrastructure really important? Would it make more sense to figure out a way to fix our long-term funding needs? What do Obama's consistent requests to Congress do for the overall attention to infrastructure? The White House says there has been progress since Obama first took office--300,000 miles of U.S. roads repaired, 22,000 bridges repaired, and 6,000 miles of rail improved. Did that make a difference?