One reason to shift infrastructure financing to the private sector is that governments and their contractors often give taxpayers the shaft. They say a big project will cost a certain amount, but then the project gets underway and they reveal that—whoops!—the project actually costs much more. No one gets fired, the money has been spent, taxes and debt have been increased, and officials move onto the next boondoggle.
When the Solyndra scandal broke in September, I wrote that “Republicans should be careful when casting stones given their past and present support for energy subsidies.” The left has been ripping congressional Republicans for making political hay of the Solyndra affair after having lobbied the Department of Energy to bestow their constituents with similar taxpayer handouts.
An amendment to a Senate appropriations bill introduced by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) that would have reduced funding for rural development subsidies at the Department of Agriculture by $1 billion was easily voted down today. Only 13 Republicans voted to cut the program. Thirty-two Republicans joined all Democrats in voting to spare it, including minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), ranking budget committee member Jeff Sessions (R-AL), and tea party favorite Marco Rubio (R-FL).
I have sometimes wondered whether it is accurate to say that Republicans are the “Stupid Party.” We’ll soon know the answer to that question. As part of the debt limit agreement, the politicians agreed to set up a “Supercommittee” comprised of six Republicans and six Democrats that was responsible for producing at least $1.2 trillion of supposed deficit reduction.
A friend points me to a recent article on Foreign Policy’s website written by a career State Department employee who spent a year in Iraq trying to “win the hearts and minds” of the Iraqi people. I’ve pretty much become numb to stories about government failure, but this one left me with my forehead planted on my desk.
Today’s big news is that the Obama administration — thanks to those crisis-ignorin’ creeps in Congress — is going off on its own to reduce purportedly devastating student loan burdens. Well, that’s the message. The reality is that the proposals just tinker around the edges, meaning debtors are getting little relief while the notion that it’s okay to stick taxpayers with other people’s obligations is advanced.
Texas governor Rick Perry’s “Cut, Balance, and Grow” plan is out. Dan Mitchell discussed Perry’s proposed tax reforms so I’ll offer my take on the proposed spending reforms:
In case you missed it, President Obama gave a big speech out in Las Vegas about both his “jobs” plan and a new plan to help underwater borrowers re-finance their mortgage.
My Washington Post op-ed on federal infrastructure yesterday elicited a large and vigorous response. The comments on the WaPo site and emails to my inbox were about 80 percent in opposition to my views.
In a recent television ad for her network, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow stands below the Hoover Dam and asks whether we are still a country that can “think this big” — Hoover Dam big. The commercial is built on the assumption that American greatness is advanced by federal spending on major infrastructure projects.