The Agenda

Stimulus By Any Other Name

During the fiscal-stimulus debate, Alice Rivlin, among others, suggested that Congress ought to separate short-term measures from long-term measures. Specifically, she suggested that Congress devise a long-term infrastructure strategy, which would include dedicated revenue streams that would go into effect once a recovery was under way. Now might be the right time for Rivlin’s concept to make a comeback. Kristina Moore of the Journal reports that there is an emerging bipartisan consensus “that more spending is needed on infrastructure projects.” I was particularly struck by the fact that Kentucky representative Thomas Massie, a staunch libertarian Republican, seems keen on the idea, telling Moore that “transportation is one of the few things that Congress actually should spend money on.”

Not surprisingly, there is no consensus on how to finance infrastructure. My view is that devolving responsibility for surface transportation to state government is the best way forward, and that transportation should be funded primarily by user fees. Members of Congress aren’t inclined to embrace higher gas taxes or electronic tolling or VMT taxes, but state-level public road enterprises might be more inclined to embrace novel approaches to road pricing. But perhaps there is a role for a surge in federal transportation funding as part of a transition to a more decentralized approach. 

Reihan Salam — Reihan Salam is executive editor of National Review and a National Review Institute policy fellow.

Most Popular

PC Culture

Warren Is a Fraud

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) has been telling a story for years. It’s a deeply romantic story about her parents and their young love, fraught with the familial bigotry of an earlier time. Here’s how she told it this week in a video she released in preparation for her 2020 run: My daddy always said he ... Read More

Two Minnesota Republican Candidates Assaulted

Two Republican candidates for state office in Minnesota have been physically assaulted in recent days, leading prominent Republican lawmakers to caution their Democratic colleagues against employing inflammatory rhetoric. Republican state representative Sarah Anderson was punched in the arm last week after ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Origins of Progressive Agony

What has transformed the Democratic party into an anguished progressive movement that incorporates the tactics of the street, embraces maenadism, reverts to Sixties carnival barking, and is radicalized by a new young socialist movement? Even party chairman Tom Perez concedes that there are “no moderate ... Read More

How Will the Senate Races Break?

How will the Senate races break? We have less public polling to go on than in recent years, so answering that question is harder than ever. But the news is more optimistic for Republicans than it was a month ago.   Waves and Breakers Four years ago, I projected in mid September that if “historical ... Read More