Timothy P. Carney
March 17, 2011
Photo credit Thomas True from Wikimedia Commons
The flowers are blooming and the birds are chirping, and so it’s time for Sen. John Kerry, once again, to stand on stage with Republicans and Big Business and call for a dramatic expansion of government.
Last Spring, Kerry had lined up some corporate luminaries – BP, Conoco, and Shell – to endorse his cap-and-trade scheme for greenhouse gasses. Even though BP’s Deepwater Horizon had already exploded and was sinking, it was only a spat with his GOP ally, Lindsey Graham, that derailed that little moment of corporatism.
Today, Kerry’s Big Business-Big Government collusion would be a federal “Infrastructure Bank,” described by a Boston Globe reporter as “an independent entity called the American Infrastructure Financing Authority, which would be similar to the Export-Import Bank.” Ex-Im epitomizes corporate welfare. It also is a prime example of unaccountability.
The agency is independent of any cabinet department, and it hands out loans and loan guarantees basically at its own discretion. Congress typically gives Ex-Im lengthy reauthorizations, thus minimizing congressional oversight. In recent years, Ex-Im was moved off-budget, meaning it funds itself with the repayments from old loans and the fees from new ones. So it’s kind of like Fannie Mae was, before its exposure became real and the taxpayers had to come in and bail it out.
‘Infrastructure bank’ gains steam
March 17, 2011
A bipartisan group of senators appears to be moving forward with an “infrastructure bank” proposal, though it is slightly different from the one that President Obama proposed in his 2012 budget.
Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), and Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) teamed up on Tuesday with the dynamic duo of U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tom Donohue and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka to introduce the BUILD Act, which would establish a loan fund to leverage federal money for infrastructure investments.
Now this group of senators is proposing a tweaked proposal with less money, and less federal control. Instead of $5 billion of initial funding plus $30 billion over six years, this new proposal would appropriate $10 billion in seed funding for one year that would be loaned out for economically viable projects and recouped—with interest. The bank would also not be housed under the jurisdiction of the Department of Transportation—unlike Obama’s proposal.