As a democrat, I feel upset by my lack of enthusiasm for the current stimulus package. Sure, where roads are bad, fix them, but we shouldn't build a bunch of new roads and bridges we don't actually need just for the sake of employing people. All those new roads will increase our future financial obligations because we will have even more roads to maintain.
I just saw Senator Frank explaining how important it is for the federal government to send money to the states to help maintain the employment levels of policemen and the like. Usually I agree with the senator, but having lived in Massachusetts for a year recently, I was struck by the pervasive presence of police in his state. It seemed like every time anyone backed up a big truck, they had to contact the authorities in advance and have a squad of police supervise the procedure. Sooooo wasteful of tax dollars! Bloated state and local government should be cut back where possible. With the national debt the size that it is, we need to be careful what kinds of stimulus and investments we make. We need to choose projects that we will be glad we spent money on down the road.
We should invest even more in alternative energy sources. ( They tout that this plan doubles our current capacity for alternative energy, but doubling almost nothing is still almost nothing!) Scientific research-----originally included in the package, but now removed-----is a good idea for a nation facing energy problems, global warming, sick bees and an epidemic of diabetes. We could employ more people in the cleanups after natural disasters to restore economic activity promptly. And surely we could stand to improve educational programs and fund services that focus on keeping people out of the prison system. (Incarceration, even in a low-end state like Florida, costs about $20,000 per inmate per year. In Nevada it's more like thirty grand!)
I am all for a lot of construction projects, but I suspect the only thing really alluring about road construction is how much faster that is to get started than, say, nuclear power plants. I sure hope the final package strikes a good balance between the conveniently prompt projects, and the smart choices that take more planning.