Obama Calls for $50 Billion Public Works Plan

NY Times says

Obama Calls for $50 Billion Public Works Plan : “”

It is not clear from the Times article whether this is truly additional spending, a temporary stopgap since the previous authorization has lapsed, or the first phase of the new transportation bill. It looks like smoke and mirrors to me since it lacks specifics. Reuters says it is to be part of the six-year reauthorization (but does not say if it will $50B/year (or $300B over six years), or whether it will decline in downstream years). The House is looking at (but probably won’t get) $500B over six years.
Also note $50B is for “to rebuild 150,000 miles of road, lay and maintain 4,000 miles of rail track, restore 150 miles of runways and advance a next-generation air-traffic control system.” The first and last are certainly good things in general, but you don’t get that many miles for $50B. It is not clear what the federal role in this rail track is, this amount of money (at best one-third of $50B) certainly won’t lay anything close to 4,000 miles of high-speed rail track (and aren’t the intercity freight RRs private?), will Amtrak get its own track? Is this for metropolitan commuter lines? Is this urban transit or inter-city? Closing loopholes on the oil and gas industry is rhetorically good, and may or may not be good policy. Raising the gas tax would be simpler, but has been ruled out. The big hedge word is “maintain”, and they don’t distinguish between laying and maintaining.
An infrastructure bank is also a good idea, if the loans get paid back. If it is just another source for grants, it is again smoke and mirrors.
I was hoping they would just get reauthorization done in the lame-duck session after the mid-term elections.
This Reuters article is only slightly more informative than the New York Times.

(Via .)