Read it here first: In commenting over the weekend about Senator Kerry's plan for a $10 billion or $600 billion "federal infrastructure bank," I said, "infrastructure spending is a big favorite of the Chamber of Commerce." Today Mike Allen's Politico Playbook reports that Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Donahue will appear with Mr. Kerry today to endorse the proposal. So will Republican senator Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas.
Mr. Allen quotes an anonymous Kerry aide as saying, ""This legislation is John Kerry's climate change effort of 2011 – meaning he's going to throw his heart and soul into it." Mr. Allen is too polite to suggest an alternative meaning – that, like the climate change legislation, it's not going to pass.
Meanwhile, over at Bloomberg News, Amity Shlaes has a column skeptical about the effects of infrastructure spending:
The second thing the U.S. can do is stop kidding everyone about infrastructure as stimulus....
Infrastructure spending as stimulus is no medicine for dramatic downturns or tsunamis. In fact, the very reason Japan was carrying destabilizing amounts of debt even before the quake was its infrastructure spending that failed to stimulate. Our own emphasis on stimulus plans that included infrastructure gave a lurching quality to recent growth. Now everyone is concerned that, absent stimulus, the U.S. can't grow farther. So sure, Japan will need new infrastructure now. But that infrastructure should be recognized for what it is: brick, wire, mortar. Remember, though, that growth comes from competitiveness, not government spending.