How to waste hundreds of billions of dollars, the Biden way
The president is busy touring the country trying to sell the public on the recently-approved infrastructure bill…the measure he hopes will blunt what could be a GOP wave in the 2022 mid-term elections.
But does this bill, and the hundreds of billions it will spend, actually mean we can look forward to fewer potholes, safer bridges, and such? Cato’s Randal O’Toole writes that a big slug of the money is going to mass transit and even that which is spent on roads won’t make your commute any better:
The infrastructure bill is really two bills in one: first, a reauthorization of existing federal spending on highways and transit; and second, brand-new spending on highways, transit, Amtrak, electric vehicles, airports, ports, clean water, clean energy, and broadband. This entirely new spending is almost entirely unnecessary as the infrastructure crisis was mostly fabricated in order to get Congress do what it always does, which is throw money at problems that are perceived to exist, whether they are real or not.
About half of the transportation dollars in the bill are dedicated to Amtrak and urban transit, modes of transportation that carry less than 1 percent of passenger travel and no freight. While the other half appears to be dedicated to highways, much of that will be spent on projects that will reduce, not maintain or increase, roadway capacities.
And it gets even worse:
The bill also includes $65 billion for rural broadband based on overestimates of how many people lacked access to high-speed internet. According to the White House, which originally proposed this spending, “more than 30 million Americans live in areas where there is no broadband infrastructure.” But according to the Federal Communications Commission, only 21 million Americans “lacked access to fixed terrestrial” broadband in 2019, and all of those Americans had access to satellite broadband if they wanted it. The main beneficiaries of this $65 billion will be broadband companies and high-income exurbanites.
Which is just another way of saying this massive spending bill uses a big bucket of borrowed money to advance various agendas, and prop-up assorted failing transportation interests, rather than making roads better, safer, and more accommodating.