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Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump don’t agree on much of anything, but there is one area where they have a meeting of the minds: they both want to spend way more on public works programs. Hillary Clinton says that her primary jobs stimulus will be a massive $275 billion-plus infrastructure spending binge. Donald Trump one-upped Hillary last week promising to spend twice that amount. He says the money is necessary because of crumbling roads and “bridges that are falling down.”
It’s a rare source of agreement, so wouldn’t you know it: they’re both wrong.
If our infrastructure is crumbling, it surely isn’t because the federal government is spending too little money. Public works projects were supposed to be the centerpiece of the Obama $830 billion stimulus bill. We were promised “shovel-ready” jobs. Remember that? But job growth has remained abysmal for seven years. So what happened to all that money? No one in Washington wants to ask or answer.
We now know a lot of the money didn’t even get spent on public works, but got intercepted for projects like the now-bankrupt Solyndra solar energy company and more still for food stamps and welfare programs. Some of President Obama’s spending went to build big white elephants like the $70 billion California high speed rail train from and to nowhere, or low-return investments such as the Washington Metro silver line with at least five cost overruns and almost no riders.
Over Mr. Obama’s presidency, Washington has spent nearly $1 trillion on infrastructure. As the chart shows, this was more money than any other president in history has spent. Amazingly, it cost about $250 billion to build the interstate highway system. Mr. Obama has spent at least three times more than that and we still have what more pot holes in America than jobs.