early and often

Obama’s Stimulus Plan Getting People Very Excited

Over the weekend, President-elect Obama detailed his vision for an economic-stimulus plan on Meet the Press and in one of those weekly YouTube videos that, considering the source, you kind of expect to be more dazzling. The package will involve massive infrastructure spending the likes of which we haven’t witnessed since Dwight Eisenhower personally built the Interstate Highway System with his own grizzled hands. Besides fixing our crumbling roads and bridges, Obama promised to rebuild schools and make them energy-efficient, modernize the health-care system, and upgrade our broadband Internet access. Of course, all these projects will create loads of jobs. Not necessarily the jobs laid-off journalists and bloggers will be up for, but jobs nonetheless.

• Michael Tomasky is thrilled about the prospect of massive infrastructure spending, having convinced himself that “no such thing would ever happen in my lifetime.” But his excitement is tempered with the knowledge that to pass the Senate, the plan will need some Republican support and “will be reshaped.” But it’s a promising sign that William Kristol isn’t calling on conservatives to fight the stimulus tooth and nail. [Guardian UK]

• And he isn’t: William Kristol writes that “conservatives should think twice before charging into battle against Obama under the banner of ‘small-government conservatism.’” He suggests those who “think some government action is inevitable” could push for “spending a good chunk of the stimulus on national security — directing dollars to much-needed and underfunded defense procurement rather than to fanciful green technologies.” [NYT]

• Emil W. Henry Jr. agrees that conservatives can indeed support Obama’s plan, claiming that “investment in key infrastructure is consistent with Reagan principles.” Conservatives should “supply leadership in private-sector participation” instead of clinging “to a historical orthodoxy that ignores economic realities.” [WP]

• John Nichols thinks “Obama’s focus on construction is smart, and useful” because it’s “more likely to pay union-scale wages,” and money “paid to construction firms and workers tends to circulate rapidly in local economies.” At the same time, Obama “will still have to come up with plans for other sectors of the economy … if he is serious about stimulating the sort of job growth that is needed.” [State of Change/Nation]

• Harry Shearer notes, as he often does, the absence of a pledge to “ramp up work on flood protection and coastal wetlands restoration” of New Orleans. [HuffPo]

• Blair Kamin, the Tribune’s architecture critic, wonders if our new construction projects will “live up to the standards set in the 1930s and set new ones, simultaneously improving American competitiveness and enriching the public realm for generations to come.” [Chicago Tribune]

• Nicole Gelinas writes that getting this right will require “leadership and competence at all levels of government,” which means viewing “public works investment not as a short-term stimulus for stimulus’ stake, or a vehicle for politically driven job creation,” but instead as a way to “create the best and broadest necessary and permanent infrastructure for the most responsible minimal price needed to build it.” [WSJ]

• The always-anonymous Economist believes that the infrastructure plan should be “big enough to provide short-term and sizable stimulus to the reeling economy.” But it also warns that “Obama must guard against building ‘bridges to nowhere’ as well as defend this part of the plan against accusations that road-building and the like sit oddly alongside his many green proposals.” [Economist]

Related: Building a New WPA

Obama’s Stimulus Plan Getting People Very Excited