WASHINGTON (AP) - Much of President-elect Barack Obama's effort
of $825 billion or so to rebuild roads, bridges and other
infrastructure won't hit the economy for years, according to an
analysis by congressional economists.
Less than half of $30 billion in highway construction funds
detailed by House Democrats would be released into the economy over
the next four years, concludes the analysis by the Congressional
Budget Office. Less than $4 billion in highway construction money
would reach the economy by September 2010.
The CBO analysis doesn't cover tax cuts or efforts by Democrats
to rush aid to cash-strapped state governments. But it illustrates
just how difficult it can be to use public investment to rush money
into the economy. It usually takes bids and contracts to announce
such developments, which invariably takes time.
Overall, only $26 billion out of $274 billion in infrastructure
spending would be delivered in the economy by the Sept. 30 end of
the budget year, just 7 percent. Just one in seven dollars of a
huge $18.5 billion investment in energy efficiency and renewable
energy programs would be spent within a year-and-an-half.
The findings, released to lawmakers on Sunday, call into
question the effectiveness of congressional Democrats' efforts to
pump up the economy through old-fashioned public works projects
like roads, bridges and repairs of public housing.
And other pieces, like efforts to bring broadband Internet
service to rural and underserved areas won't get started in earnest
for years, while just one-fourth of clean drinking water projects
can be completed by October of next year.
Still, other elements of Obama's $825 billion economic recovery
plan, such as $275 billion worth of tax cuts to 95 percent of
filers and a huge infusion of help for state governments, will be
distributed into the economy more quickly. But Republicans are
poised to attack the bill for spending too much.
The Obama transition has stressed that a combination of old and
new federal investments will help the economy recover, as well as
tax cuts and other steps. Obama economic advisers and their allies
on Capitol Hill have sought to identify federal programs that can
deliver dollars fast, like food stamps and a boost in unemployment
At the same time, defenders of brick-and-mortor projects like
federal building and school construction are poised to reap
benefits from the big recovery package