1958 vs 2008 Stimulus

Crossposted at http://rockefellerconservative…

500 billion. That is the number being bandied about by the Obama transition team for a new stimulus package. That is a lot of money. And to his credit, President-Elect Obama is not planning on writing a blank check either; he has some plans for all this money. The plan is for a massive infrastructure project- the biggest since Eisenhower’s interstate highway system. Specifically, Obama wants to spend 500 billion dollars to build roads, modernize schools, expand Internet access, improve buildings’ energy efficiency, and put better technology in hospitals. Unfortunately, this plan is hopelessly stuck in 1958, not 2008.

This proposed stimulus plan lacks any real social vision for the country’s future- in fact it could actually slow growth rather than foster it. Take one example: roads. While Eisenhower was being revolutionary in imagining an interlocking highway system that would allow drivers access all over the country, can the same be said today? Wouldn’t an investment in maglev technology for public transit be a more forward-looking idea? Or what about completely re-envisioning the metro system to better accommodate today’s population clusters that no longer depend on the large cities the original public transit system was created for? Spending billions of dollars to prop up old infrastructures will do little for us in the short term and even less in the long term.

Innovation is not only required when it comes to old infrastructure but old companies as well. So we come to the auto bailout. It looks as though a temporary fix will be in place and it will be up to the new administration to decide on a long-term plan. Instead of spending another $50-100 billion dollars to hold together 20th century companies, why not force real change. With that amount of investment Detroit could be mandated to create incredibly fuel-efficient hybrids. Bold thinking is going to be required of Americans as they embrace the next century.

One of the biggest challenges facing the world is energy production. We send 300 billion of our dollars into foreign coffers every year. What if part of the stimulus package were to work towards a solution to the energy crisis? We already have a plan that seems to make sense: the Pickens’s Plan. The government could fund the installation of thousands of wind turbines in the Great Plains, the potential wind corridor of the United States due to favorable wind resources and geographic location. It is estimated that these turbines could generate enough power to provide 20 percent or more of the country’s electricity supply. With wind energy providing a large portion of the nation’s electricity, the natural gas that is currently used to fuel power plants could be used instead as a fuel for thousands of vehicles. This investment in the future could cost as much as $1 trillion, but could be offset by private investment. Regardless, if taxpayers are being asked to foot the bill for billions in stimulus, they should be able to look forward to a real substantial benefit in the long term, and $300 billion kept in-country annually sounds pretty good, not to mention the environmental benefits it would create.

Obama promised real change, a new day in America. It is time to prove it.

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