During the London Olympics opening ceremony on television this past Friday, local stations across Massachusetts ran a new ad from Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren. Warren, the Democratic challenger to incumbent Republican Scott Brown, calls on America to allocate government spending more like Communist China.
According to Ms. Warren:
We've got bridges and roads in need of repair and thousands of people in need of work. Why aren’t we rebuilding America? Our competitors are putting people to work, building a future. China invests 9% of its GDP in infrastructure. America? We’re at just 2.4%. We can do better.
Ira Stoll at the New York Sun critiques both the content of Ms. Warren's advertisement and the political judgment of her campaign for running it:
The first problem is mathematical. U.S. gross domestic product is about $15 trillion a year. Increasing infrastructure “investment” to the 9% Chinese level that Ms. Warren cites would mean an additional $1 trillion a year in government spending. That’s an immense spending increase. To put it in context, the entire federal government spent about $3.6 trillion in 2011, on revenues of about $2.3 trillion.
Math, though, is hardly the only problem with emulating China’s approach to infrastructure spending. History is another. America and China are at different junctures in our development. America built a lot of bridges, tunnels, and highways in the 1950s and 1960s when China was stuck under Communism. A lot of China’s spending now isn’t going to outpace America but to catch up with things that we’ve had here for decades, like potable water and a population that is mostly non-rural.
China is able to spend so much on infrastructure because it’s an un-free country. It lacks the rule of law that lets American community groups wage legal and political battles against big government projects. Ms. Warren may protest that when she’s talking about “infrastructure” she mainly means maintaining existing roads and bridges, not building brand new projects that flatten urban neighborhoods or destroy scenic rivers. But that’s not what’s happening in China.
Just days after the premiere of this commercial, the Boston Globe reports Warren will not be the keynote speaker of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, which kicks off on September 3.
Michael Patrick Leahy is a Breitbart News contributor, Editor of Broadside Books’ Voices of the Tea Party e-book series, and author of Covenant of Liberty: The Ideological Origins of the Tea Party Movement