By Fareed Zakaria
President Obama’s State of the Union address presented an expanded vision of smart government to create jobs and revive the economy. Yet he lowered his sights on the single policy that would both jump-start the economy in the short term and create the conditions for long-term growth: infrastructure spending. Having tried several times to propose infrastructure bills of around $50 billion — or just 0.3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) — the president further scaled back, proposing a “fix-it-first” plan that repairs 70,000 bridges falling down nationwide.
This would apply a band-aid on America’s growing cancer of failing infrastructure. A 2009 study of all U.S. infrastructure by the American Society of Civil Engineers concluded that $2.2 trillion should be spent over five years to bring the nation’s roads, bridges, railway tracks, airports and associated systems up to grade.