Thursday at a Holland, Michigan plant, President Obama turned on his folksy charm and declared that he would work tirelessly to “Git folks workin’ again” (note to the prez…I’ve been to lovely Holland, MI several times and they don’t talk that way, so there was no need to put on airs). He again terrified the markets by threatening to propose a whole host of new legislation to make sure the government provides everyone with a job. [Please, Mr. President, please, stay at Martha’s Vinyard until 2012 and spare us any ideas you have rattling around in that oversize brain!]
One of the buzzwords that the president and his fellow Democrats have been floating this past week is investment in “infrastructure” as the solution to flat economic growth and high unemployment rates. Wednesday on Fox’s The Five, leftist political analyst Bob Bechtel said that a National Infrastructure Bank would help put people back to work.
To be honest, I had never heard of the National Infrastructure Bank until I received an e-mail about it this week from my senator, Sherrod Brown (D-OH), the most liberal member of Congress. Brown proudly announced that he was trying to sell the scheme to business leaders in Cincinnati as a way to rebuild a crumbling bridge. Brown linked to an article in the Cincinnati Business Courrier that covered the meeting :
“Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown assembled a group of business, labor and local government officials in Cincinnati Tuesday to voice support for new legislation that would create a national infrastructure bank to finance big-ticket projects like the Brent Spence Bridge….Brown’s proposal calls for projects of national significance to receive financing as long as they as they can demonstrate “an ability to repay the loan.”
In an opinion piece in Thursday’s Wall Street Journal, former PA Governor Ed Rendell and Mesa, AZ Mayor Scott Smith are pushing the rebuilding of our infrastructure via a National Infrastructure Bank:
“It is also time we create new infrastructure financing options, including a National Infrastructure Bank. Many of these new programs, using Build America Bonds, for instance, can be paid for with a minimal impact on the federal deficit.
The government’s continued neglect of infrastructure will consign our nation and our children to economic decline. Rebuilding America’s future cannot be a Democratic or Republican political cause. It must be a national undertaking.”
Rendell and Smith write as representatives of Building America’s Future Educational Fund, which bills itself as “a bipartisan coalition of elected officials dedicated to bringing about a new era of U.S. investment in infrastructure that enhances our nation’s prosperity and quality of life.”
Alright, if by “bipartisan” they mean a collection of leftists and RINO’s which includes the likes of Michael Bloomberg, Arnold Schwazenegger, Gavin Newsome, Charlie Crist, David Patterson, and Ted Strickland. The Director of the Board is Donna Cooper from the Center for American Progress. Notice there’s quite a collection of out-of-work former Democratic office-holders on the list. Apparently their wives couldn’t handle having them wandering aimlessly around the estates all day.
So what exactly is this National Infrastructure Bank? Various iterations of it have been tossed around for the past several years. The basic idea is that a government bureaucracy would be set up to lend (or give) money out to fund infrastructure projects. Obama had a version in his 2011 budget announcement. Remember that “invest” is a code word for deficit spending:
“The Administration’s six year plan would invest $30 billion to found a National Infrastructure Bank (I-Bank). The I-Bank would leverage this Federal investment by providing loans and grants to support individual projects and broader activities of significance to our Nation’s economic competitiveness…A cornerstone of the I-Bank’s approach will be a rigorous project comparison method that transparently measures which projects offer the biggest “bang for the buck” to taxpayers and our economy. This marks a substantial departure from the practice of funding projects based on more narrow considerations.”
Well, this all sounds very reasonable, doesn’t it? We all want safe roads and bridges. We all have images of the Minneapolis bridge collapse seared into our brains and recognize that our nation needs upgrades in our infrastructure.
But as often has happened with this administration, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner reveals the real motives behind this plan:
“That’s why the President’s plan will reform our current system to promote merit-based investment by creating a National Infrastructure Bank, which will select projects on the basis of rigorous analysis. The National Infrastructure Bank will also draw private capital to invest in American infrastructure so that we can better leverage scarce taxpayer dollars. We will support projects that produce significant returns on our investment, allow Americans more choices in their modes of transportation, and improve the interconnectedness of our existing transportation networks to maximize the value of our current infrastructure.”
“…Eighty percent of jobs created by investing in infrastructure will likely be created in three occupations –construction, manufacturing, and retail tra