Archive for economic stimulus

Engineers: Thousands of US bridges dangerously close to collapsing, "only a matter of time"


london bridge is falling down

Hey, remember when President Obama was out there campaigning for that crazy stimulus package? To rebuild our crumbling infrastructure? To make our roads and bridges safe again? And remember when Republicans obstructed and belittled him, saying that all he wanted to do was spend, spend, spend! and that would lead to the collapse of our already fragile economy!

How ironic, because by preventing a substantial economic stimulus program, those on the right are causing the collapse of our already fragile infrastructure before our very eyes, and very possibly the collapse of very lives and livelihoods.

According to the Times, "some of the most important bridge links in the country are now threatened by age." No sh**, Sherlock.

The Los Angeles Times:

America's roads and bridges have been eroding for decades, but the deeper they fall into disrepair, the less money there is to fix them. First, the recession crippled local budgets, cutting the money available for transportation projects. As states began to recover, the federal government adopted its own mandatory budget cuts via sequestration. Then last month, the federal legislation that annually funds transportation projects across the country hit a roadblock of Republican opposition that throttled multibillion-dollar transportation bills in the House and Senate. [...]

Every day, U.S. commuters are taking more than 200 million trips across deficient bridges, according to a variety of analyses, and at least 8,000 bridges across the country are both "structurally deficient" and "fracture critical" — engineering terms for bridges that could fail if even a single component breaks. [...]

Officials from several states, including Pennsylvania, have warned that without substantial new federal funding of the kind recently roadblocked in Congress, they may be forced to close many of their deficient bridges, potentially preventing cars, emergency vehicles and school buses from getting to entire neighborhoods. [...]

Got that, Republicans? Because you blocked funding, Americans are facing life-threatening situations, whether it be the misfortune of crossing a bridge just as it falls to pieces, or being denied emergency care due to a lack of access. Nice.

I live in Southern California, and per the Times report, 16 bridges right here in the Los Angeles area are "in the highest-risk category, aging and subject to collapse with the failure of a single component."

Thanks, GOP. You've done it again.



European leaders begin to realize austerity is crippling nations. Gee, ya think?


stimulus austerity

Drastic cuts, sequestration, firing public workers by the hundreds of thousands, slashing programs that keep people healthy and alive, closing schools, suppressing stimulus plans when we need them most, and ignoring the opportunity to rebuild a crumbling infrastructure are all wrongheaded policies that progressives have been trying our best to reverse.

Europe is rethinking their own approach to cutting and starving their way out of their economic problems and ending up on "a dead-end street." It's about time.

The Los Angeles Times has an article on that very thing:

Prodded by Germany and its insistence on fiscal virtue, governments elsewhere have fired workers, chopped welfare benefits and shelved big-ticket projects, turning the continent into what some call one giant "Austerity-land."...The punishing spending cuts have stifled consumer demand and economic growth, not spurred it. [...]

Public patience with continued belt-tightening is wearing thin as misery increases and as officials repeatedly push their predictions of economic recovery further into the future. [...]

The pressure may finally be starting to tell. Recently there have been signs that the region's leaders, most notably in Berlin and at European Union headquarters in Brussels, are rethinking their dogmatic pursuit of spending cutbacks and balanced budgets. [...]

Advocates of a more nuanced policy note that U.S. economic performance has easily outpaced Europe's and that Japan is witnessing a comeback. [...]

[S]o many countries cutting so much so fast, they contend, has turned out to be an act of collective kneecapping that has crippled the entire region. [...]

More pro-growth policies — investment in big infrastructure projects, for example — could jump-start faltering economies and help countries make the revenue they need to pay down their debts, analysts say...

That, however, would require a farsightedness and cooperative policymaking that critics say has been sorely lacking.

Take note, Republicans. Or is that asking too much? As I wrote in a 2011 post, GOP jackasses, foresight is not exactly their strong suit.


Chart: Taxes schmaxes. Three-Quarters of deficit reduction has been via spending cuts


taxes schmaxes

chart deficit cuts not taxes

With the state of the economy as it is today, stimulus is a good thing. Spending works when done right, but austerity is not what we need right now. Yet Republicans insist on austerity measures which, as we’ve witnessed and is painfully evident overseas, are one big fat fail.

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David Cay Johnston:

“They do not want him to succeed. There`s no question about that. They are assert that spending more money is wrong. We really need to be spending a lot more money, fixing up our infrastructure and creating jobs and making the economy run better.

Think Progress has way more than this so please link over:

When McConnell tried to claim on ABC’s This Week that revenue was off the table, anchor George Stephanopoulos wasn’t having it. And the numbers show he was exactly right.

I responded to McConnell's cut, cut, cut/stop spending gibberish here: VIDEO: Mitch McConnell is a lying, evasive GOP Sunday talk show hypocrite.


It’s official: Austerity economics doesn’t work


John Cassidy at the New Yorker wrote an article that had me at "Austerity economic doesn't work." It's more than a little frustrating to watch and listen to Republicans insist on austerity measures which, as we've witnessed and is painfully evident overseas, do. Not. Work.

Nor would they work here in the U.S. no matter how many times the GOP repeat their Cut Cut Cut mantra... and you know how reliable their judgment has been, up to and including the 2012 elections and beyond.

And don't get me started on raising the Medicare eligibility age. Besides, what’s the rush?


With Republicans in Congress still intent on pursuing a strategy similar to the failed one adopted by the Brits, this is a story that needs trumpeting. Austerity policies are self-defeating: they cripple growth and reduce tax revenues. The only way to bring down the U.S. government’s deficit in a sustainable manner, and put the nation’s finances on a firmer footing, is to keep the economy growing. Spending cuts and tax increases can also play a role, but they need to be introduced gradually. [...]

That austerity has led to recession is undeniable. ... consumer and investment spending have remained depressed. [...]

In adopting a fiscal stimulus of gradually declining magnitude over the past four years, the Obama Administration has administered what was, until recently, the standard medicine for a sick economy. As one would have expected on the basis of the textbooks, the American economy, while hardly racing ahead, has fared considerably better than its British counterpart. [...]

Having adopted the policies of Keynes in response to a calamitous recession, the United States has grown more than twice as fast during the past three years as Britain, which adopted the economics of Hoover (and Paul Ryan). 

Clear? Clear.

By the way, why aren’t we talking about a Wall St. transaction tax and much, much more? Hmm?

More of Cassidy's article at the link.

H/t: @42bkdodgr