A year into the Obama administration, America’s dominant geography, suburbia, is now in open revolt against an urban-centric regime that many perceive threatens their way of life, values, and economic future….
But now, once again, things have changed. For the first time in memory, the suburbs are under a conscious and sustained attack from Washington. Little that the administration has pushed—from the Wall Street bailouts to the proposed “cap and trade” policies—offers much to predominately middle-income oriented suburbanites and instead appears to have worked to alienate them….
In addition, the president’s stimulus—with its $8 billion allocation for high-speed rail and proposed giant increases in mass transit—offers little to anyone who lives outside a handful of large metropolitan cores.
I find it’s easier to read things like this when I imagine the steam pouring out of Ryan Avent’s ears like a Looney Tunes character as he reads it. That said I’ll take this one because it’s easy.
From the ProPublica Stimulus Spending List:
Highway infrastructure investment $26,725,000,000
Highway infrastructure funds distributed by states $60,000,000
Highway infrastructure funds for the Indian Reservation Roads program $550,000,000
Highway infrastructure funds for surface transportation technology training $20,000,000
Highway infrastructure to fund oversight and management of projects $40,000,000
Additional capital investments in surface transportation including highways, bridges, and road repairs $1,298,500,000
Administrative costs for additional capital investments in surface transportation $200,000,000
High speed rail capital assistance $8,000,000,000
Check that out: Over $28 billion dollars allocated to highway spending, with over $26 billion allocated to “Highway infrastructure investment.” That’s over three times the amount spent on the $8 billion for “high speed rail capital assistance.”
We know from econometric studies that the building of highways in the 1950s was essential for the way suburban development happened in the United States. And with the growth of exurbs, access to functioning highway infrastructure is even more essential. It would be incredibly difficult to come up with an argument for how $28 billion dollars in highway development is primarily helping those living in urban cores except through second-order effects.
It amazes me is that this piece of the stimulus is completely overlooked as a giant boom to the suburbs. There’s this weird assumption that highways and the rest of the infrastructure that makes the conditions for the suburbs possible are just magically built and maintained, as if the other half of Americans who don’t live in the suburbs don’t chip in to pay for it.
And just out of curiosity, what would have happened to the suburbs if we had let Fannie and Freddie fail? Did anyone do any estimates of that?