I was watching President Obama give a speech on infrastructure two days ago. Here is a link to the transcript. Here is a link to the video. I kept getting the feeling that I had heard this speech before. President Obama said “[w]e are aiming to put every major infrastructure project on a public dashboard so everybody can go online; track our progress; hold us accountable; make sure things are coming in on time, on budget; make sure your taxpayer money is being used well, but also make sure that we’re putting folks back to work rebuilding America.” During this speech the President also said, “[f]irst-class infrastructure attracts first-class jobs. Business owners don’t want a crumbling road or a bridge because then they can’t move out their stuff, and their workers aren’t as productive because it’s harder for them to get to work.”
This sounded like a familiar push. The theme of building roads and online accountability did not seem like a new tactic. I decided to look into some old speeches. I was drawn to an economic speech given by the President on January 8, 2009. Here is a link to the transcript. If you can remember, this speech took place during the big push for the American Recover and Reinvestment Act. All the way back in 2009 the President promised that “[i]nstead of politicians doling out money behind a veil of secrecy, decisions about where we invest will be made transparently, and informed by independent experts wherever possible. Every American will be able to hold Washington accountable for these decisions by going online to see how and where their taxpayer dollars are being spent.” Back in 2009 the President also claimed that “[t]o build an economy that can lead this future, we will begin to rebuild America. Yes, we’ll put people to work repairing crumbling roads, bridges and schools by eliminating the backlog of well-planned, worthy and needed infrastructure projects, but we’ll also do more to retrofit America for a global economy.”
It is not big news that a politician would recycle an old canard. The issue is that the American Recovery and Reinvestment act cost somewhere between 1 to 1.7 trillion dollars. Bridges should be fixed. Projects should already be online. I guess that I am a bit old fashioned when I believe that trillions of dollars spent should be followed by obvious returns.