The importance of infrastructure investment for U.S. economic growth is widely appreciated. But policy discussions often get sidetracked by a debate regarding the level of federal spending. To spur growth, it is more important to ensure that investment is as efficient as possible and that investment responsibilities are optimally allocated between the federal government, the states, and the private sector.
On a drive back from a visit to Monticello yesterday, I listened to Jon Meacham’s biography of Thomas Jefferson. In 1784 Jefferson was interested in a project to improve trade routes to the West from the Potomac River. In a March 15 letter to George Washington, he wondered whether it might be a (state) government-supported project, but admitted one problem with that idea:
The folly of monopoly unionism (“collective bargaining”) in government is most evident when labor unions strike. Hundreds of thousands of San Francisco area residents are currently having their lives disrupted by union actions against the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system. BART’s unions want higher wages:
It looks like the cost of Arlington County’s gold-plated bus stop will be even higher than a $1 million. According to the Washington Post, taxpayers will also have to pay for an “independent contractor to review the cost and design” of the Transit Taj Mahal in Northern Virginia.
It’s a good thing that the farm bill failed to pass the House, but it is disturbing that about three-quarters of Republicans voted in favor of this massive spending bill. The House bill would have spent 47 percent more over 10 years than the 2008 farm bill ($940 billion vs. $640 billion). Most of the spending is for food stamps, so GOP farm bill supporters would have essentially ratified the recent huge spending increases on this welfare program.
Congress is gearing up to pass a major farm bill for the first time since 2008, and this year’s bill threatens to be much larger than the last one.
It’s widely accepted that George W. Bush was a big-spending president. He was a social conservative, but not a fiscal one. To his credit, however, even Bush recognized how wasteful and unfair farm subsidies are, and he vetoed the last major farm bill in 2008.
Cato held a packed forum on Capitol Hill yesterday examining major farm legislation that is moving through Congress. Our panelists included Andrew Moylan of R Street, Josh Sewell of Taxpayers for Common Sense, and Scott Faber of the Environmental Working Group.
House and Senate farm subsidy supporters are pushing to enact the first big farm bill since 2008. Democratic and Republican supporters say that this year’s legislation will be a reform bill that cuts spending. Hogwash.
Politicians are having fun slapping around big corporations for supposedly not paying enough taxes. In this country, Apple is the current target, while in Europe it’s Google, Amazon, and Starbucks, according to the Washington Post today.