Dead End Street

Are you ready for this? President Obama intends to solve our economic woes by bringing back the WPA. Officially known as the Works Progress Administration, those old enough to remember will recall that it was unofficially known as “We Piddle Along”.

No, no – the President didn’t exactly say he’d be reviving the WPA in his annual State of the Union address last Tuesday, but his intention could be detected between the lines of his double-speak. Here’s how the Chicago Tribune reported it on January 25th:

“WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama proposed plowing half the money America will save from the end of its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan into high-speed rail lines and repairs to the nation’s creaking roads and infrastructure.

“The plan will likely face an uphill battle in Congress where Republicans frequently point to high-speed rail projects as a waste of money at a time of tight budgets.

“‘So much of America needs to be rebuilt,’ Obama said, adding that the United States has ‘crumbling roads and bridges.’ He provided no dollar figures for his plan. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated savings from the wars would result in ‘about $ 440 billion less’ in spending in 2012-2021.

“Democrats have previously proposed using some war savings to help pay for infrastructure upgrades but such ideas have died in Congress.

“In recent years, the United States has fallen sharply in the World’s Economic Forum’s ranking of national infrastructure systems. In the forum’s 2007-2008 report, American infrastructure was ranked sixth best in the world. The 2011-2012 report showed America at No. 16. The quality of U.S. roads is now about on a par with those of Malaysia.

“Obama said the other half of the money saved winding down the wars would go to paying down U.S. debt. Aiming to sell his idea as potentially creating jobs, the president said his proposal would help construction workers left unemployed by the 2007-2009 recession.

“‘There’s never been a better time to build,’ Obama said, adding that he will sign an executive order within weeks to clear away red tape for public construction projects …

“Last year, the president proposed a $ 556 billion, six-year transport plan that included high-speed funds, but which went nowhere in Congress.” –

[And this year’s State of the Union “infrastructure” proposal will also end up in the waste basket – where it belongs. “Infrastructure” projects have never generated a “multiplier effect”. The WPA program proved that without that lasting “multiplier effect”, every project is a dead end street.]