“Is this a shovel-ready project?” Mr. Biden asked Scott Christie, the state transportation official charged with deploying economic-stimulus money.
“It’s ready to go,” Mr. Christie answered. “I literally have the plans in the car right now.”
It turns out, though, that shovel-readiness is in the eye of the beholder. Soon after his visit, Mr. Biden found out that his model stimulus project wouldn’t see a shovel for almost four more months, possibly longer, knowing how such timetables slip. In North Middleton, a White House eager for action had run up against locals eager to avoid disruption. The locals won.
Duh. I’ve spoken with people in the construction business on this subject. The time they’ve quoted me for proposal to completion on most projects is about seven years. The idea that construction projects in a stimulus package could pump money into the economy and exploit the Keynesian multiplier to boost the economy before the economy had already righted itself was always fanciful at best.
I didn’t oppose a stimulus package but the package I would have preferred would have consisted mostly of items like extending unemployment benefits or expanding foods stamps—measures that would have all but certainly been spent immediately. The challenge now will be keeping the stimulus package measures from crowding out private economic growth and all that borrowing from causing inflation to explode.