Stimulating Who, Exactly?

Great point by Carter Wood over at the excellent Shopfloor blog of the National Association of Manufacturers. Building on my point at NRO about the tension between infrastructure projects and existing regulation, Carter says:

There is good reason to fear that any significant project that promotes both quick economic investment and long-term competitiveness — say, modernizing and expanding the nation’s electrical grid — will immediately be hit by litigation lasting years and years and years. In which case the only thing being stimulated is the fundraising drives of alarmist, anti-growth environmental groups.

The plain fact is that any so-called stimulus that relies on infrastructure projects has to contain a significant deregulatory element. Of course, environmental groups will be able to raise money whatever happens, whether because “polluting” projects are given the go-ahead or because regulations they have fought tooth-and-nail for are lifted. It should be apparent, therefore, that if the President-elect wants to avoid conflict with environmental groups that he has so far rewarded with at least 5 major appointments, he should choose another route for the stimulus than the Keynesian infrastructure route, such as individual and corporate tax cuts. In the end, however, if he wants infrastructure improvement – whether initiated by government or the private sector – deregulation is almost a necessary price to pay.

Or he could attempt to live with government funding and regulatory delay, and hope the taxpayer will be willing – and able – to bear the cost…