Republican Roadblocks to Investment in Public Infrastructure

Paul Krugman contends that the government’s inability to invest in infrastructure is due to “the destructive ideology that has taken over the Republican Party.”

“We have huge infrastructure needs … and the federal government can borrow incredibly cheaply — in fact, interest rates on inflation-protected bonds have been negative much of the time (they’re currently just 0.4 percent). So borrowing to build roads, repair sewers and more seems like a no-brainer. But what has actually happened is the reverse. After briefly rising after the Obama stimulus went into effect, public construction spending has plunged. Why?”

“In a direct sense, much of the fall in public investment reflects the fiscal troubles of state and local governments, which account for the great bulk of public investment.”

But “once the G.O.P. took control of the House, any chance of more money for infrastructure vanished.”

“And it’s all about ideology, an overwhelming hostility to government spending of any kind. This hostility began as an attack on social programs, especially those that aid the poor, but over time it has broadened into opposition to any kind of spending, no matter how necessary and no matter what the state of the economy.”

“We need public investment; at a time of very low interest rates, we could easily afford it. But build we won’t.”

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