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The Washington Post  reports that the economic recovery package Barack Obama and congressional Democrats are proposing includes a lot of good stuff - aid to cities and states, increased unemployment insurance and food stamps. But here's the really bad part: The Post says the package "includes about $85 billion worth of infrastructure spending, most for highway and bridge construction." That's it - $85 billion in an $850 billion bill.
$85 billion at a time when Obama is demanding another $350 billion blank check for Wall Street.
$85 billion when the American Society of Civil Engineers says we need $1.6 trillion .
$85 billion in the same package that could include hundreds of billions of dollars  in corporate tax cuts - many for the banks that created the economic mess. This, at a time when U.S. News & World Report notes that a new poll  shows 81 percent of Americans are ready to pay higher taxes to fund significant infrastructure investments.
$85 billion, we are told, is "serious" and "pragmatic" - in the face of overwhelming evidence that it is anything but. As Paul Krugman notes , there's plenty of worthy investments that need funding - and the "shovel-ready" limitations are nonsense:
Since unemployment is likely to remain high well beyond that two-year window, the plan should also include longer-term investment projects. And bear in mind that even a project that delivers its main punch in, say, 2011 can provide significant economic support in earlier years. If Mr. Obama drops the “jump-start” metaphor, if he accepts the reality that we need a multi-year program rather than a short burst of activity, he can create a lot more jobs through government investment, even in the near term.
Still, shouldn’t Mr. Obama wait for proof that a bigger, longer-term plan is needed? No. Right now the investment portion of the Obama plan is limited by a shortage of “shovel ready” projects, projects ready to go on short notice. A lot more investment can be under way by late 2010 or 2011 if Mr. Obama gives the go-ahead now — but if he waits too long before deciding, that window of opportunity will be gone.
So considering that, let's hope $85 billion is just a starting point. Otherwise, it's not a serious proposal - not even close.