President Obama Joins the Build While It’s Cheap Chorus

Ah, my work here is done. From the White House today:

The President on Infrastructure Investment: “This is Work That Needs to Be Done. There Are Workers Who Are Ready to Do It.”

I was glad to hear that the definition of infrastructure was broad enough to include more than just transportation networks. Read the transcript or watch the video at the link above. Read the Treasury/CEA analysis of infrastructure investment here. From its executive summary:

Our analysis found four key reasons why now is an optimal time to increase our investment in transportation infrastructure:

  • Well designed infrastructure investments have long term economic benefits;
  • The middle class will benefit disproportionately from this investment;
  • There is currently a high level of underutilized resources that can be used to improve and expand our infrastructure; and
  • There is strong demand by the public and businesses for additional transportation infrastructure investments.

Of these reasons, the first two have nothing to do with the assertion that this is “an optimal time” to increase investment. They will be true regardless of when the investment is undertaken. The fourth might be relevant to timing, but I don’t think so. We have had chronic underinvestment and unmet demand for transportation infrastructure. Each of these statements was also true when the economy was expanding toward the last business cycle peak.

The legitimate reason for why now is an optimal time is the third — there are unused factors of production that can be employed on the cheap. The Treasury/CEA report goes on to cite evidence of this. I am glad that the President chose to focus on that one (and the White House blog chose to put it in the title). I only hope that the proposal gets due consideration in the Congress.

About Andrew Samwick 89 Articles

Affiliation: Dartmouth College

Andrew Samwick is a professor of economics and Director of the Nelson A. Rockefeller Center at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire.

He is most widely known for his work on the economics of retirement, and his scholarly work has covered a range of topics, including pensions, saving, taxation, portfolio choice, and executive compensation.

In July 2003, Samwick joined the staff of the President's Council of Economic Advisers, serving for a year as its chief economist and helping to direct the work of about 20 economists in support of the three Presidential appointees on the Council.

Visit: Andrew Samwick's Page

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