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Report Gives America’s Infrastructure a ‘D’

It’s no news that many liberal critics of the Democrats’ stimulus plan are wondering why so much would go toward tax rebates and so little, relatively speaking, would target infrastructure projects. And those voices found new reason to be critical today.

A report released by the American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that America’s aging bridges, roads, sewers and other structures will require $2.2 trillion in maintenance and repairs over the next five years just “to meet adequate conditions.” If the country’s infrastructure were to be graded, the ASCE claims, it would get a “D.”

The report is likely to stir the already heated controversy surrounding the Obama administration’s spending choices under the $825 billion proposal, which House lawmakers are expected to approve today. In December, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee recommended $85 billion in new infrastructure spending, including

Chairman James Oberstar (D-Minn.) has been vocal in pointing out that the Obama administration’s blueprint provides just $63.5 billion for those same projects. Reports have emerged that Obama economic advisor Larry Summers was behind the move to trim infrastructure spending in favor of tax cuts, which the administration included to entice GOP support — support that seems not to be forthcoming.

There’s another reason that the tax rebates — which constitute $275 billion of the package — have been controversial: Gifted with a similar tax rebate last year, many Americans simply saved the cash or used it to pay down existing debts — actions that do nothing to stimulate the economy in the short term.

As University of Maryland economist Peter Morici told CNN this morning: “That’s part of the controversy about this bill. A lot of the money may be wasted.”

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