Shovel-Ready Was Never Shovel-Ready

President Obama has belatedly realized that the “shovel-ready projects” he touted so much in his stimulus bill two years ago were anything but:

“Shovel-ready was not as shovel-ready as we expected,” Obama said.

And just why weren’t they shovel-ready? Regulation, of course:

“How do we deal with making sure our regulations make sense, so that we start eliminating ones that don’t work, aren’t making consumers better off or aren’t improving our quality of life?” Obama told the employees.

Of course, some people — like CEI — knew that in February 2009, when I wrote:

So what should we do? There’s an inkling in the Washington Times today, from, of all people,George Deukmejian, Pete Wilson, and Gray Davis. They point out that “shovel-ready” projects are just maintenance work, because infrastructure projects are bogged down in environmental regulations. They don’t quite get to the conclusion, so let me say it for them: if you want to build infrastructure sharpish, you’re going to have to set aside those environmental regulations by law. Any “stimulus” bill that doesn’t include relief from the provisions of the National Environmental Protection Act, for instance, isn’t going to get any infrastructure project going any time soon.

So if you want to stimulate, you’re going to have to liberate. Similar arguments can be made as regards Davis-Bacon and 13C. There are a bunch of other such ideas, which will also get the economy moving by getting government out of the way. For example, finally suspending mark-to-market accounting properly, which will be a huge boon to the banks. Or getting rid of the burdens of SarbOx and other ridiculous and ineffectual regulations on small businesses. Antitrust reform would help, too. And you could even think about finally getting rid of the Corporate Income Tax, a hold-over from the days when income tax itself was unconstitutional, and which, at least before the 2005 reforms, probably cost more to collect than it raised in income.

If you want hope and change, rather than the same old pork barrel policies, that’s the way to go: liberate to stimulate (it’ll catch on).

The idea of “liberate to stimulate” has indeed caught on – with the voters. It’s the political establishment who are having problems with it