So President-elect Barack Obama claims the days of “pork … as a strategy” are over. This in the same breadth he is proposing to borrow anywhere between $500 billion to $1 trillion to spend on expanded infrastructure spending. Don’t worry though, Obama has met with the nation’s governors (but apparently not IL Gov. Rod Blagojevich) and he is assuring the American people that the governors have identified billions of dollars in worthy infrastrucuture projects that are “shovel ready” … meaning they could be started quickly.
Well the nation’s mayors also have their own infrastructure wish list and they have been kind enough to put it online. Heritage senior fellow Ernest Istook has combed through the list of “vital infrastructure” projects and found:
We find 56 requests for museum funding, for starters. They include:
- $35 million for the Music Hall of Fame in Florissant, Mo.
- $35 million for the Scottsdale Museum of the West in Arizona
- $20 million for the Virginia Key Beach Museum in Miami, Fla.
- $26 million for a new museum and exhibits in Meridian, Miss.
- $20 million to build a Minor League Baseball Museum in Durham, N.C.
- $30 million to create a Museum of Contemporary Science in Trenton, N.J.
- $80 million for the Philadelphia Museum of Art
- $1.75 million for the Music Museum of Ponce, Puerto Rico
Parking garages are equally popular. That long list includes:
- $43 million for parking garages in Tucson, Ariz.
- $94 million for Miami to build a parking garage where the Orange Bowl once stood (and where the Florida Marlins plan a new baseball park), plus another $200 million for other garages around town.
- $16 million for parking in Hercules, Calif.
- $85 million for “solar-powered” airport parking in Long Beach, Calif.
And there’s a plethora – over 200 – of bicycle-related requests:
- $5 million for four bicycle paths in Long Beach, Calif.
- $8 million for citywide bicycle facilities for Miami, Fla.
- $2.6 million for bicycle paths in Lewiston, Maine
- $15 million for bicycle/pedestrian ways in St. Louis, Mo.
- $2.5 million for bicycle paths in Austin, and the same amount for Arlington, Texas
- $14.5 million for new bicycle ways in Salt Lake City
The wrong question is whether these and other projects have merit. The right question is whether they have such overwhelming merit as to justify borrowing and spending an extra $1 trillion on top of the regular bloated federal budget.
If mayors are irresponsible in picking their priorities, will they be any more responsible as watchdogs of how it’s spent?