5. Obama's $50 Billion Highway to Nowhere
The New Deal. Sending a man to the moon. "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall...." And what does President Obama come up with to inspire our national malaise? Jumpstart the stalled U.S. economy by spending $50 billion to ... pave roads.
Not exactly cover material for The Audacity of Hope, Volume 2.
Clearly, Obama Stimulus 2.0 is merely a bid for positive press during a midterm election fight -- and lord knows it doesn't ring as hollow as, say, President Bush's vague and farcical call for manned spaceflight to Mars. But for a president who came into office promoting a new era of innovation, a warmed-over retread of the New Deal ain't exactly the time machine we had in mind.
Granted, some of the money in Stimulus 2, Electric Boogaloo is intended for rail systems that will connect the country coast to coast. The plan also intends to fund itself by cutting off oil and gas industry tax breaks. That should play well in Peoria, as will the part of the infrastructure spending plan aimed at improving runways so that there are fewer air travel delays. That will play well just about anywhere with flying machines.But what is truly needed -- and the opportunity Obama has squandered -- is to present a comprehensive plan to overhaul our transportation infrastructure for a greener future. Photo-ops for the President at a wind turbine plants or at solar company assembly lines aside, a true energy plan appears to have fallen off the Obama "To Do" list. Indeed, energy legislation introduced earlier this year to enact modest reforms of the energy status quo and lay the groundwork for a real federal push to build a nationwide network of natural gas vehicles and fueling stations failed miserably. It's fitting that on Wednesday, Ernst & Young's latest Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Indices showed that China had finally surpassed the U.S. as the best country in which to pursue renewable energy projects. Among the reasons for China taking the top spot: the U.S. failure to enact a federal renewable energy standard. TheStreet Says: We were kind of hoping for 2035, Mr. President -- not 1935.