Where Did the Last Batch Go?

Obama and the Left want a big new infrastructure spending bill, based on twin theories that it would be a) stimulative and b) a bargain, as needed infrastructure could be built more cheaply with construction industry over-capacity.

Since this is exactly the same theory of the stimulus four years ago, it seems a reasonable question to ask:  What happened to the damn money we spent last time?  We were sold a 3/4 of a trillion dollar stimulus on it being mostly infrastructure.  So where is it?  Show us pictures, success stories.  Show us how the cost of construction of these projects were so much lower than expected because of construction industry over-capacity.  Show us the projects selected, to demonstrate how well thought-out the investment prioritization was.  If their arguments today have merit, all these things must be demonstrable from the last infrastructure bill.  So where is the evidence?

Of course, absolutely no one who wants to sell stimulus 2 (or 3?) wants to go down the path of investigating how well stimulus 1 was spent.  Instead, here is the argument presented:

Much of the Republican opposition to infrastructure spending has been rooted in a conviction that all government spending is a boondoggle, taxing hard-working Americans to give benefits to a favored few, and exceeding any reasonable cost estimate in the process. That's always a risk with new spending on infrastructure: that instead of the Hoover Dam and the interstate highway system, you end up with the Bridge to Nowhere and the Big Dig.

In that sense, this is a great test of whether divided democracy can work, and whether Republicans can come to the table to govern. One can easily imagine a deal: Democrats get their new infrastructure spending, and Republicans insist on a structure that requires private sector lenders to be co-investors in any projects, deploying money based on its potential return rather than where the political winds are tilting.

This is bizarre for a number of reasons.  First, he implies the problem is that Republicans are not "coming to the table to govern"  In essence  then, it is up to those who criticize government incremental infrastructure spending (with a lot of good evidence for believing so) as wasteful to come up with a solution.  Huh?

Second, he talks about requiring private lenders to be co-investors in the project.  This is a Trojan horse.   Absurd projects like California High Speed Rail are sold based on the myth that private investors will step in along side the government.  When they don't, because the project is stupid, the government claims to be in too deep already and that it must complete it with all public funds.

Third, to the extent that the government can sweeten the deal sufficiently to make private investors happy, the danger of Cronyism looms large.  You get the government pouring money into windmills, for example, that benefits private investors with a sliver of equity and large manufacturers like GE, who practically have a hotline to the folks who run programs like this.

Fourth, almost all of these projects are sure to be local in impact - ie a bridge that helps New Orleans or a street paving project that aids Los Angeles.  So why are the Feds doing this at all?  If the prices are so cheap out there, and the need for these improvements so pressing, then surely it makes more sense to do them locally.  After all, the need for them, the cost they impose, and the condition of the local construction market are all more obvious locally than back in DC.  Further, the accountability for money spent at the Federal level is terrible.  There are probably countless projects I should be pissed off about having my tax money fund, but since I don't see them every day, I don't scream.  The most accountability exists for local money spent on local projects.


  1. Fooled Once But Not Twice:

    The first Obama stimulus was money laundering of campaign bribes with some infrastructure thrown in to make it smell better. Much of the first stimulus was Medicaid reimbursement to the states who were faced with layoffs in order to meet their Medicaid obligations. The states didn't layoff anybody and the money laundered in union bank accounts came back as campaign bribes.

  2. mesaeconoguy:

    These morons are completely delusional.

    Nothing from that Kevin Dumb piece made any economic sense.

    This is becoming a monumental divergence between those in power (mostly Dumbasscraps) and reality. Reality usually wins those disagreements.

  3. Ron H.:

    " Absurd projects like California High Speed Rail are sold based on the
    myth that private investors will step in along side the government.

    This is one of the stupidest arguments ever presented to voters. If private investors were interested in "stepping in", they would do so without government involvement. This is always a sure sign that, as you say, the project is stupid.

  4. LarryGross:

    we have two roads that previously were indefinitely delayed that now employ several hundred workers. We have kept over 100 school teachers would have been let go. We have more roads and bridges in need of repair and replacement. We have one bridge that was built before WWII, is functionally obsolete and carries twice the design traffic. There is a website for those who are really interested that does detail the projects. There was SOME pork but not much and it's almost inevitable with congress that new bills have some pork.

  5. Mark Alger:

    A politician once told me that the world is run by those who show up. Which may be true, but the assertion is fallacious in that it assumes the world needs to be "run" by anybody.

  6. marque2:

    I don't know but that stimulus money had been in the budget for 4 years now. you would think with some 2 trillion spent, we would see something interesting, a fancy new bridge, a new Hoover like dam. But all I have seen is a little oily substance thrown on the roads to make the blacktop look black again. Thank you for making my roads look deep black Mr Obama.

  7. marque2:

    Maybe the schoolteachers should have been let go, or the support staff. Turns out the support staff in schools outnumber the teachers now. I believe when I was growing up it was like 3 - 4 teachers per staff.

  8. marque2:

    Well the government could help by promising to ease restrictions on right of ways and such. Even if a large rail project were feasible a private company probably couldn't do it on their own because of all the property law suits, and eco law suits, and bizarre regulations and such.

  9. marque2:

    It basically went to government Union employees so the federal dollars could be indirectly funneled into Obama's re-election campaign.

  10. john mcginnis:

    Sorry but school teachers are NOT infrastructure.

    Road building is a waste of time. You get more bang for the buck if one were to upgrade telcom infrastructure all the way to the home. More people work from home several days a week lessens the need for more roads, reduces fuel consumption, parents have more interaction with their children, etc. Spending your money on the 21st century instead of the 19th is most beneficial.

    Don't believe it? This Friday during your daily commute note the traffic load and how long it takes you to get to work. Then next Monday do the same thing. President's day. Most federal/state workers will be off. That is an example of what could be by spending our monies wisely.

  11. john mcginnis:

    Need to consider it in the view of a political prism. `Those who show up` are the activists with a cause they wish to push.

    But your are right, the world does not need to be run by anybody.

  12. john mcginnis:

    Our host I believe missed a big one in his excellent post. A federal project most likely can never take advantage fully of over capacity. A good chunk of most infrastructure projects is labor. The feds have to follow congressional mandates on federally funded labor practices. ie some of the highest in the land. No discounts permitted.

  13. LarryGross:

    here's where to find out what it got spent on: http://www.recovery.gov/Pages/default.aspx

    but most stimulus money does find it's way to paying people - who in turn will spend that money on stuff.

    that's what a a stimulus is....

  14. marque2:

    The trick is to pay people who are actually doing real work. Not paying people who are dead weight. Very little of government can be considered more than dead weight. And in fact if your job is to take a dollar from Paul and give it to Peter, so Peter can have decent life without working, your job actually creates a double negative. We pay for the worthless government job, which in turn encourages more people to not work.

    There is no doubt that much of the money went to states to keep worthless workers going. And yes to spray oil over roads to make them look black again, yay! At least that is what the sign said in my town. (They had to post it was stimulus money for spraying the blacktop.)

  15. marque2:

    Actually there is a perverse energy dissavings with telecommuting. With telecommuting your office keeps a space for you in case you show up. And you consume much much more energy, because now you have to keep your home warmed and cooled, and the lights on, where you had most of this turned off while you were at work. Your company most likely conditions the air and does the lighting much more cheaply than you do at home for the 8 hours of work

  16. LarryGross:

    it's Stimulus.. the ultimate purpose of stimulus is to get money to people to spend. That's exactly why the 2% payroll tax holiday was done as well as the 400.00 make -work pay credit. You obviously don't agree but that does not mean the money was not spent and did a lot of good... and there ARE many infrastructure projects that have been built as well... and most folks think improving roads is worthwhile.

  17. mesaeconoguy:

    Christ you’re a moron.

    Feckless imbecile, maybe government shouldn’t be worrying about insanely bloated public sector worker pensions (and all the other crap they do nowadays, thanks to public sector unions) and instead doing their jobs of providing infrastructure, 30 years ago (when the public sector union problem
    really started, see CA).

  18. LarryGross:

    mesa.. moron is the least of your problems guy... go back to looking at your navel.....it's more productive for you, I can guarantee it.

  19. mesaeconoguy:

    LMAO, says the guy with his head up his ass and who can't figure out where $787 billion went.

    Larry, stop abusing oxygen, we beg you.

  20. mesaeconoguy:

    Far too complex for Larry to grasp.

    It also leads to this:


    Again, far beyond Larry's grade school intellect.

  21. LarryGross:

    mesa - can you read nimrod: http://www.recovery.gov/Pages/default.aspx

    are you so anti-govt that you refuse to read? willful ignorance is your forte?

  22. mesaeconoguy:

    Larry, are you so dim that the only sources you link to are government-based? And are you so
    painfully ignorant that you lack all critical thinking ability (we know you have zero economics knowledge) which should tell you the stimulus not only didn’t work, it made things worse?

    Yes, apparently you are.










    Shut the fuck up, government apologist peckerhead.

  23. LarryGross:

    Meso how about you STFU idiot? The govt stimulus funds are accounted for. You may not agree with how they were spent but they are accounted for .. you are free to believe what you wish but be advised that we're not talking about govt vs non-govt sites. We're talking about facts and realities no matter what opinions are. The difference here is you are saying you don't know what the money was spent on - and that's a blatant lie given the obvious access to the facts.

    The entire purpose of the stimulus was to put money into the economy. It really did not matter than much what it was actually spent on and if you think that not true then ask yourself why the govt temporarily reduced the payroll tax by 2% or provide the make-work-pay credit - a refundable credit no matter your taxes - to the tune of 400.00 per taxpayer. They were free to spend that money any way they saw fit whether it was for food or porn.

    You simple disagree with that - that's fine - but to say you don't know what it was spent on is just ignorant.

  24. Ron H.:

    Aren't property law suits, eco lawsuits, and bizarre regulations and such part of considering whether a project is "feasible"?

  25. john mcginnis:


    Not the case sir. Any company that is keeping 1:1 seat relations to employees AND attempting telecommuting should fire their RE space planner. The companies I see that do telecommuting properly do hot seating and office resource reservation systems. They also down size by about 30% on floor space.

    As to keeping your home warmed and cooled, I agree that environmentals should be adjusted when not occupied, the fact is it is seldom done. So the house generally stays at the same energy level whether empty or not. I am far from a PCer, think CFL's are and abomination, and use whatever sacks the merchant has on hand.

    The fact is the taxpayer would save more money upgrading telecom than roads. Road construction uses massive quantities of energy in relation to what telecom requires.

  26. Zachriel:

    Here's a typical Republican taking credit for stimulus funds for his district after voting against it.

  27. marque2:

    Yes, but if a private company says whoa we can make a rail system work, but we would have trouble with the regulations - that the government imposed in the first place, then they could make the case to government officials that it is good for the state, we need some help circumventing the courts/regulations. And if government help isn't forthcoming than the private company will walk away.

    I am not saying anything really out of the ordinary

  28. marque2:

    It takes much more energy to heat a whole house then it does to heat a cube at work. Thems the facts, no matter how you dice it.

    At best your proposition is a wash energy wise. But it can be beneficial with that other scarce resource - time.

  29. mesaeconoguy:

    They failed, shitforbrains.

    You don’t get another one, impudent troglodyte.


  30. Ron H.:

    Neither are you saying anything that makes any sense.

  31. Zachriel:

    Hmm. Comment disappeared for some reason.

    Coyote Blog Where Did the Last Batch Go?

    Here's some of it. Republican taking credit for stimulus spending after voting against it.

  32. LarryGross:

    indeed, we had a flock of Republicans from the Gov on down show up for the start of a new road - paid for with stimulus money.

    We also had local GOP take stimulus money to keep teachers and police employed rather than laying them off and refusing the stimulus money.

    The GOP is pretty much a bunch of feckless hypocrites when it comes to how they talk about the stimulus vs their own actions in accepting stimulus money.

    of course the folks who blather on and on here and in other places about "where is the stimulus" and "it did not work"..don't want to hear this.

  33. marque2:

    I think you might have a comprehension problem. I fairly clearly stated the situation, and companies deal with it all the time.

    I want to build a building downtown, but all the city paperwork and lawsuits make it untenable.

    Lobby a few government officials to help you with the paperwork and preventing suits, and all of a sudden your project becomes tenable again. This is why companies do lobbying and donate to officials.

    I guess if you don't get it, I won't explain it again. Just be aware that, what you don't understand, is fairly common

  34. Ron H.:

    Politicians are hypocritical? Who would have thought! And you're surprised by this?

  35. Ron H.:

    So you are a big time fanboy of cronyism and the oiling of political machinery. Why didn't you just say so instead of prattling on about a private company saying "whoa"?

    Yes, it's very common - it's just not what we prefer in a democratic society. At least in theory, elected representatives act in the public interest, not the interest those who buy special favors.

    Does your notion of "easing restrictions on right of way" include the use of eminent domain to seize private property for the benefit of your railroad developer? What about the use of taxpayer funding for that project?

    What exactly is your point, that politicians are corruptible? No one has questioned that, it's universally accepted as a truism.

  36. mesaeconoguy:

    Idiot, that isn’t the point.

    Neither Coyote nor I are arguing that Republicans “piggybacking” off of Obama’s failed stimulus are somehow excused – they are part of the problem. No one here endorses that.

    Coyote’s and my point is that the stimulus was not only ineffective, it wound up in union coffers/Obama’s reelection fund, not where it was intended (or stated, on stupid government websites for fools).

    By all objective measures, the stimulus failed, and produced innumerable negative consequences, and now we have zero/negative growth due to these incredibly foolish and dangerous fiscal (and monetary) actions.

    Projected growth for 2012 GDP was 3%. Actual GDP came in at 1.5%. This year will likely be worse, as we slide into recession along with Europe.

    It is this willful ignorance to see the negative effects of poor policy which has destroyed the country.

    Larry, you, and other fellow traveler morons like you, are the ones responsible. You are in for a very, very painful lesson shortly.

  37. bigmaq1980:

    Two words: "Shovel Ready"

    Heard that anywhere before? Anyone?

  38. LarryGross:

    naw... not how you started. you started saying you could not see evidence of it and there is clearly evidence of it - a full accounting of it in fact. There are no unions where most of the money went - either - much of it went to right-to-work states so that's point two that shows what you're really up to. you simply disagree with the concept of the stimulus but won't admit it and you revert to childish name calling with those whom you disagree like some little 5 year old throwing a tantrum.

    If that very same money was spent on more soldiers and weapons would you also think it "did not work"?

    you live in a delusional world guy. you sound like the NRA guy. i.e. the whole world is about to collapse and it's liberals fault... !!!! Christ Meso.. are you really this whacked out?

  39. mesaeconoguy:

    naw... not how you started.

    Where Did the Last Batch

    • 3 days ago

    These morons are completely delusional.

    Sure I ddin’t.

    Delusional fuckbag.

  40. mesaeconoguy:

    Larry, I’m pretty certain you have zero reality connection.

    What day do you think this is?

  41. mesaeconoguy:

    Larry, do you know where you are right now?

  42. mesaeconoguy:

    Larry, what is your surname?

  43. mesaeconoguy:

    Larry, these are standard EMT field questions of people displaying symptomatic traumatic injury.

    As an ex-EMT I am concerned for your welfare, as your statements have gone far, far beyond rational explanation.

    Obamascare gives me the authority to refer you to IPAB.

    I wish you luck.

  44. LarryGross:

    not impressed little boy

  45. mesaeconoguy:

    Wrong, Larry, much of the stimulus went to unions, and affiliates.

    It is hilarious that you think that soldiers & weapons (eeeevil defense spending, which is small, compared to welfare spending) are acceptable substitutes for the wasted stimulus expenditure. Why are we spending this money at all?

    Larry, I gave you a slew of articles and data above which disprove your laughable, but persistent, delusion that “stimulus is good.” It isn’t. It failed. The economy is tanking, market internals are awful, and you’re oblivious.

    The only reason why we are not currently in a recession is because of massive stimulus. We cannot keep that up forever, but as long as the current dangerous failed administration is around, we will have it.

    The world is collapsing, ask Europe (Germany is officially now in the shit sandwich), and it is mostly leftists/”liberals” (who are anything but) fault.

    You clearly are in need of major psychological help, as well as extensive economic education.

    You remain fabulously ignorant, and GSP ™ CEO and Chairman.

  46. Zachriel:

    Not at all. Just trying to help Coyote Blog see where the money went.

  47. Charles:

    It boggles the mind. First they add the original stimulus to approx 2.7T outlays making 3.5T for the year of the stimulus.
    Then the Senate quits budgeting which would have to based on the 2.7T+ Baselining budget. The next step is continuing reolutions at the "current" spending levels with stimulus.
    So every year since, we have had a new stimulus with spending holding at around 3.5T.
    And it still isn't working.......................
    So of course we need more...............
    How come no one, including the non liberal press outlets is pointing this out???

  48. LarryGross:

    did the stimulus not go to all states including right-to-work states? Can you see a discernible difference in the amounts between the union states and rtw states?

    Mesa.. you are a fool boy.. you suck up propaganda left and right and don't even think for yourself ... THINK MESO... how did the union states fare - relative to the RTW states?

    yes.. the word is collapsing.. obama is bad .... blah blah blah.. mesa.. my boy.. you really are in need here...guy.. all you seem to know is propaganda and name calling... are you sure you are not some little snot nose in the 5th grade ?

  49. markm:

    What is "IPAB"? I'm pretty sure you are neither referring to the protein IpaB, nor the Independent Payment Advisory board, which is supposed to make Medicare cost-effective.