The Long-Running Public Opposition to Roads and Bridges

Matt Bai has a piece in theNew York Times today (9/9/10) explaining how Barack Obama squandered an opportunity to make fundamental changes to the American economy. One claim in the piece jumps out; after explaining that large infrastructure projects–rail lines, broadband, etc.– are “things that only an active government could realistically do,” Bai claims:

Getting such projects done justified some tolerable level of public debt, proponents argued, just as a family might consider a steep mortgage on a home in a high-quality school district to be an investment in the children’s success.

And yet, little was achieved by way of investing in 21st-century infrastructure, largely because the public never seemed open to the idea of huge new spending.

The public doesn’t like the idea of spending more on infrastructure? Really? Bloomberg (12/10/09) had a poll on this last year, and its write-up led with this finding:

Americans want their government to create jobs through spending on public works, investments in alternative energy or skills training for the jobless.

And later:

Two-thirds of Americans back boosting spending on infrastructure. Six of 10 also support more spending on alternative energy to stimulate job growth, another measure Obama announced.

“The best thing we could do is take some public money to rebuild our infrastructure and improve it,” says poll respondent Richard Kellaway, 75, a Unitarian Universalist minister who lives in Dorchester, Massachusetts. Unemployed people “could be put to work in a matter of days.”

But maybe Bai knows about a national referendum that was conducted that we somehow didn’t hear about.

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.