Wednesday, February 17, 2010

45 Million in Change I Still Believe In

I hate that we needed a stimulus. It would have been cheaper and more effective to keep our infrastructure current over the last 20 years.

I hate the way the stimulus was legislated as one big bill. I think smaller, more specific and directed bills would have been more effective and less political.

I hate the oversimplification and hyperbole that infects the narratives concerning the stimulus. "Money from our kids and grandkids" being the most obnoxious. (Act like a deficit hawk or fiscal conservative before the other party is elected to power and I'll extend you more credibility.) "Forced to spend this money because of the recession" is the best the other side offers, and it is weak sauce.

All that being said, Federal stimulus grants to build more streetcar lines in NOLA - $45 million in said grants - is the kind of thing the stimulus was supposed to do. I also know (though this is rarely publicized) that many stimulus dollars have gone into modernizing emergency response systems and tools.

These are not projects that recession kneecapped states and localities can do for themselves. They are not projects that many private enterprises could capitalize or invest in.

They ARE, however, projects that states, localities and private enterprise will benefit from. It all adds up to good investment, and I am glad to see it happen.

UPDATE: Sorry to hear that Atlanta missed out on their own TIGER grant for a Peachtree Street Streetcar line. I don't think this has a lot to do with politics, either, as the ATL Streetcar would go through John Lewis' district, and plenty of "red state" areas got cash. No, with Atlanta this has to do with them asking for nearly 3 times the amount of the highest award recipient, and putting exactly zero local dollars into the project. The lack of local and state credibility on alternative transportation models does not help Peachtree's grant application, either.

That is government competency - funding projects with local support that will put the developments in many areas where the projects have the highest chance of completion and local impact.



Dante said...

"It all adds up to good investment, and I am glad to see it happen."

No, it may possibly all add up to good investment. Or it may end up as useful as all the federal money we dumped into improving the levee system before Katrina hit. In that case, a lot of chest-freeers-full-of-cash were spent on something that just didn't happen. (No, I'm not linking the two. I'm just using a Louisiana-specific metric for currency.)

This is a good opportunity for the federal government to show that it can work with local governments to implement something solid, on time, and on budget. But recent history tells me that just isn't going to happen. I hope I'm wrong since we're spending the cash anyway.

Do you have any links on stimulus money being used to modernize emergency response? I just haven't heard anything and am interested in reading about it.

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

Well, this is a "levee improvement," and probably a good investment by the taxpayers. It is closing a taxpayer funded liability created at the behest of business, by the way.

Effective levees sure do cut into profit, right up until the floodwaters come.

As far as the Loyola Loop, streetcars have a demonstrated track record of utility and high use in New Orleans. That generally equates to a return on investment.

I, too, hope this becomes an example of the Feds working with the locals quickly and effectively. I think it will.

As far as the freezers full o' cash, Obama kept around our kick ass US Attorney (who Bush wanted to replace) who put that particular individual behind bars. You may have heard about it, since that's always my first exhibit of Change I Still Believe In.

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

The closest thing I can find to a link for the emergency preparedness stuff is here, but that's not what you're asking about.

I've seen a lot of the NOLA stuff first hand. Impressive doesn't begin to describe it. A lot of folks got to see the new resources during the parades during Carnival (though they probably didn't notice). I'm not sure how much I'm really allowed to say about my personal experience, but I would LOVE to write about it.

I'll try and track down any media they have prepped.

patsbrother said...

For the record, during the 2008 election, Fact Check determined that in his many years in the Senate (which began in the 1980s), John McCain might have asked for three (3) earmarks. MIGHT HAVE. Three. Total.

That covers times when the Democrats were in control of the Senate, then the Republicans, then the Democrats, then the Republicans, and then the Democrats again.

I realize this is anecdotal, but some of them really did "act like" fiscal responsibility was important before the Democrats came to power (this last time).

However, I agree, that if the federal government feels it needs to spend money it doesn't have, I would like it to be spent working on tangible objects for public use that private individuals wouldn't do themselves (as opposed to more "programs" that do not stimulate the economy or bear little or no discernible public benefit). Yea for more streetcars!

(Maybe if they print a MTA-like simplification map, I might finally get a working conception of the triangle grid permanent in my head.)