In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Fox News' Steve Doocy is advocating spending federal money to bury power lines. But Fox News personalities have previously dismissed infrastructure spending as insufficiently stimulative to the economy, and Doocy ignores that stimulus money was in fact spent on improving the nation's power grid.
On the October 31 edition of Fox & Friends, Doocy said: “Had they taken the stimulus money that they blew on a bunch of things that were not shovel-ready and they actually got a shovel out and buried the power cables, we wouldn't be in the mess -- you know, forget about -- there's going to be isolated incidents of power out.” He later added, 'Take the Solyndra money and things they did on green energy, let's use it on wire energy and make sure that the lights don't go out every time the wind blows really hard."
In fact, as Time's Michael Grunwald points out, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, better known at the stimulus bill, provided more than $11 billion for power grid improvements, including $4.5 billion for digital meters and other “smart grid” investments that will help improve the reliability of the nation's electricity distribution network. Grunwald wrote of the “smart grid” investment: “The problem with infrastructure investments is that nobody notices them when they work. But by the time the next derecho hits, the grid will be in better shape to handle it. Nobody will notice that, either, but that's the whole point of infrastructure.”
Fox News personalities have a history of criticizing the idea of federal money being spent on infrastructure improvements. For instance:
- Doocy himself denounced an Obama proposal to increase spending on infrastructure as a second stimulus, “much like the so-called 'porkulus,' $787 billion.”
- Bill O'Reilly dismissed calls for public investment in infrastructure by falsely claiming that China and India are “not investing” in their own infrastructures.
- Fox has bashed spending on infrastructure as a “union bailout,” suggesting it benefits only organized labor.
- Neil Cavuto complained that infrastructure spending didn't have “the bang for the buck that we imagined,” and that tax cuts would have been better -- even though the Congressional Budget Office found that transferring money to state and local governments for infrastructure spending had a larger economic multiplier effect than tax cuts for wealthy Americans.
Further, even buried power cables would not have prevented some of the effects East Coast residents experienced from Hurricane Sandy. The Christian Science Monitor notes that Manhattan has approximately 21,000 miles of underground cables, yet much of lower Manhattan lost power as a result of flooding caused by the storm surge.