Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Go Canada!, or Why Justin Trudeau is important to the future of US transportation policy

So Canada has a new young, charismatic, JFK-style prime minister.  It will be fun watching the transition to a new Liberal government.  But what has this got to do with US transportation policy?
The Liberal platform has a bold plan for stimulating the economy while advancing policy goals.  The idea is to pump large amounts of money into infrastructure and human services ($5 Billion for each in the first year), financed by higher taxes on the rich (shocking!) and deficit spending (even more shocking!).  The infrastructure piece appears to be mainly transportation, although the plan is not very detailed at this point.  If successful, the plan will get the economy revved up while putting valuable public assets on the ground at relatively cheap prices.  It will be – in effect – a very large Stimulus package.

If the plan is implemented (and given the solid Liberal majority in Parliament it should be) it could provide a valuable model for the US.  Will it be successful?  Time will tell.  We know – despite the folk tales told in some circles – that the US Stimulus at the beginning of the Great Recession was a huge success, rescuing much of the economy will producing lasting benefits at bargain prices.  The Canadians have apparently not yet convinced themselves – as Americans have apparently convinced ourselves – that they are too poor, too old, too tired, too depressed, or whatever, to make bold plans to engage the 21st Century.  I wish them success!

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