President Obama wants federal funds to go to large-scale infrastructure projects. Republicans say such spending is irresponsible. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) may have come up with a compromise. He and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) have proposed an "infrastructure bank" to provide loans and loan guarantees to private companies for bridge, highway, and rail projects. The bank, which would be run by an independent authority, would use around $10 billion in public money to try and attract as much as $640 billion in private investment over 10 years. Could this be an alternative to more stimulus spending, or would it just be a waste of public money? (Watch John Kerry discuss his plan)
This is a smart idea: Kerry's plan is not just another stimulus package, says Michael Likosky at The Huffington Post. It would use taxpayer money to woo private capital, not bankroll projects outright. Such public-private partnerships provide genuine economic stimulus because they "fuel projects that American workers build." That's why the Chamber of Commerce is interested — it builds on our "strength as a nation."
"Kerry's American Infrastructure Bank"
Government should not be lining corporate pockets: Kerry's bank would hand out taxpayers' cash at its own discretion, says Timothy P. Carney at the Washington Examiner, with little accountability or congressional oversight. "So it's kind of like Fannie Mae was," before we were forced to bail it out. We should call "Fannie Pave" what it really is — a "corporate welfare slush fund." No wonder the Chamber of Commerce is slavering over it.
"John Kerry's 'infrastructure bank': A corporate welfare slush fund"
Hey, it is the most realistic suggestion yet: This isn't the first infrastructure bank proposed by Congress, says Todd Zwilich at Transportation Nation. The idea has been floating around for 20 years. But Kerry's plan "could be the best chance for the proposal in austere times." It wouldn't hand out grants, just loans, and would limit itself to profitable investments, such as "toll roads, development plans, and freight lines." Plus, the $10 billion outlay is "relatively modest."
"Lawmakers try again on infrastrcture bank"
Let's enlist the Chinese to fund our infrastructure: I've got a better idea, says Stephan Richter at The Globalist. Why don't the Chinese use "dollar-denominated funds" to set up an infrastructure bank of their own — for us? Investing in American roads, bridges, and rail projects could reap great benefits for them over time. And, as the owners of more than $1 trillion in U.S. Treasury holdings, it's in their interest for the U.S. to do well. It could be an "amazing moment in the annals of global capitalism."
"Yes, there will be a U.S. infrastructure bank"