Often the only bipartisanship one sees in Washington is embodied in the passage of big-spending infrastructure bills.
With the ink not yet try on the $2 trillion third rescue/stimulus legislative package in response to the Coronavirus crisis (the CARES Act, for “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Econnomic Security Act”) President Trump has called for a “VERY BIG & BOLD” $2 trillion infrastructure package in the upcoming “Phase 4’” response to Covid-19.
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
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 31, 2020
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) wants the same, and she’ll push the overall spending number higher. Votes could happen as early as April 20.
Both political parties historically show strong mutual inclination toward big-spending stimulus in the form of infrastructure, since there’s always something in it for the folks back home. Phase Four coronavirus spendulus will be no different unless things change fast.
We can say this with confidence because your sense of deja vu isn’t just a feeling. We have been here before.
Remember “shovel ready” back in the 2008 era economic stimulus? That didn’t work out well, but politicians were unable to resist the pressures brought to bear then and now. Mark my words it won’t be long before they’re also talking about an “Infrastructure Bank” (a bank that robs you) again, too.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) proclaimed before Phase Three that “Anything that doesn’t address that pandemic … should not be considered,” but such resistance quickly fades. The second coronavirus package, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, had already signed off on some of the progressives’ sick leave and family leave mandates on employers at the very time they could least afford new costs.
There’s still a chance for what next juggernauts America’s way to be made more sensible. We can liberalize infrastructure and the regulation of it rather than just spend government money on it.
It is absolutely true that America needs to create and expand “infrastructure wealth”; we need that just as we need financial wealth, real estate wealth, manufacturing and service wealth, technology wealth and health-care wealth.
But like all wealth creation, the root of infrastructure bounty is property rights, not transferred tax dollars and favors, which are inherently anti-property and dampening of enterprise and abundance. Throwing money at infrastructure stimulus (let’s add an “sic”) while leaving 19th and 20th Century regulation and creaky “public utility” models intact is not commendable.
A more productive way to maximize infrastructure wealth—and now-critical jobs and consumer benefits besides—-is to clear the path for free enterprise to build it. Yanking funds from unseen, helpless and dispersed taxpayers and applying it to Pelosi’s and Trump’s incoming high-profile campaign is ultimately a destructive rather than wealth-building enterprise.
Alongside the reflexive spending in the Covid-19 crisis, the bloated regulatory state is at least beginning to getting some of the attention it deserves. The administration almost daily announces deregulatory moves to lighten the load on access to treatment and healthcare. States, too, meanwhile are cutting red tape impeding response to the virus (a roundup of these may be found at #NeverNeeded, and you can suggest your own if so inclined).
Read the entire piece at Forbes.