Obama's Other Banking Program

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THE PLANK FEBRUARY 26, 2009

Obama's Other Banking Program

While sifting through the new budget--I know, I know, exciting stuff--this caught my eye:

Establish a National Infrastructure Bank. The Budget proposes to expand and enhance existing Federal infrastructure investments through a National Infrastructure Bank designed to deliver financial resources to priority infrastructure projects of significant national or regional economic benefit. The mission of this entity will be to not only provide direct Federal investment but also to help foster coordination through State, municipal, and private co-investment in our Nation’s most challenging infrastructure needs. These projects will directly and indirectly support jobs and stimulate substantial long-term economic growth.

The NIB would be a separate agency, with a $5 billion annual budget. Depending on how it's structured, this could be a great boon to effective infranstructure investment. If it's anything like the various NIB plans that have floated around think tanks in recent years, the bank would sidestep the pork-friendly, politicized Congressional allocation process (as well as the distorting filter of state agencies) and inject funds directly into worthwhile projects.

--Clay Risen

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