Why doesn’t Romney forget the past two weeks (he’s not going to make it better no matter what he says), and go out there and make a speech saying that he’ll do what Obama didn’t do (much of), and invest in roads, bridges, dams, ports, etc.?
Romney could design a program where states could compete for federal infrastructure money based on their ability to get projects done on time and on budget, with funds given out the first year based on population and given out the second year based on first-year performance.
Romney could say he’s not telling states what to do: If New York wants to use its money on subways and Arizona doesn’t, that’s fine.
And he could say that states would have a holiday from federal work rules. States could keep their own prevailing-wage and other rules in place if they wanted to artificially push up wages, but that would of course hurt them in amount of infrastructure built per dollar.
Romney needs some kind of positive, concrete (literally) project. Whatever the political proclivities of the 47 percent (who of course are different people over time, and thus represent a far greater share than 47 percent of the general population), Romney’s economic plan is too abstract.
— Nicole Gelinas is a contributing editor to the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal.