Gov't projects eyed to boost economy

Nov. 9, 2008 at 2:47 PM
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WASHINGTON, Nov. 9 (UPI) -- Government-sponsored infrastructure projects could be a boon to the struggling U.S. economy, analysts say.

The Los Angeles Times reported Sunday that although infrastructure spending is a slower way to fill consumer wallets, it could generate long-term jobs.

"Now we're in a situation where it looks like we're going to be in a prolonged downturn, so speed is still relevant, but it's not the be-all, end-all," said Douglas Elmendorf, a former economist for the Federal Reserve Board, the Treasury Department and the Clinton White House.

Elmendorf, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, co-wrote a paper this year arguing against infrastructure spending because it was not fast-acting enough. But since that paper, Elmendorf said the U.S. economic situation has become dire.

The newspaper reported that infrastructure spending, which is supported by President-elect Barack Obama, is expected to be a centerpiece of a $60-billion to $100-billion stimulus package Democrats may introduce this month.

Rep. James Oberstar, D-Minn., chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said infrastructure spending as economic stimulus has been used in the past.

"From the Works Progress Administration of the Great Depression to the Accelerated Public Works Act of 1962 and the Local Public Works Capital Development and Investment Act of 1976, investment in public infrastructure has created and sustained jobs in difficult economic times," Oberstar said, "and it can do so again today."

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