Mike Kueber's Blog

September 5, 2012

Infrastructure and deficit spending

Filed under: Economics,Issues,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 2:19 am
Tags: , , ,

Liberal columnist Molly Ivins famously disparaged her native Texas by calling it Mississippi with good roads.  Liberal president Barack Obama famously disparaged small-business people by saying, “You didn’t built this” – i.e., America’s amazing infrastructure enabled your small business to succeed. 

I agree that infrastructure is important, but question whether America’s infrastructure is what makes it exceptional.  Furthermore, even if America’s infrastructure were invaluable, it is incontrovertible that most of America’s infrastructure (roads, schools, etc.) come from state and local government, not the federal government.  Whereas state and local governments provide us with roads and schools, etc., Ezra Klein of the Washington Post once referred to the federal government as “an insurance conglomerate protected by a large standing army.” 

Klein based his characterization on the fact that almost half of the federal budget went toward insurance-type expenses (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment, food stamps, etc.) and very little went toward infrastructure or other discretionary spending.  Thus, I contend that President Obama’s infrastructure is not the issue.  America is not lagging because it is failing to maintain its infrastructure.  Its state and local governments are providing an adequate infrastructure, all while balancing their budgets.  By contrast, the federal government is spending more on insurance entitlement programs than it takes in on taxes. 

The answer?  Requiring the federal government to live within its means and balance its budget.


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