National Opinions

Ventura County Star: Road to fiscal health

President-elect Barack Obama has recently disclosed a few more details of his plan to rescue the economy, but left out key specifics -- like how much it will cost.

But it will be big. Mr. Obama said it would be the largest public-works project since construction of the interstate highway system began in the 1950s.

(For the record, the U.S. Department of Transpor- tation in 1991 put the final cost of the system at $128.9 billion, almost all of it federal money.)

Mr. Obama did say that the largest part of his economic recovery plan would be rebuilding the nation's highways and bridges, with the emphasis on projects that are "shovel ready."

"We will create millions of jobs by making the single largest new investment in our national infrastructure since the creation of the federal highway system in the 1950s," he said Saturday during a radio address.

The nation's governors say they already have $136 billion worth of highway projects ready to go and the chairman of their association, Edward Rendell, told The Washington Post that Mr. Obama "didn't blink an eye when we talked about $136 billion."

Even larger figures are being talked about. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is talking about having a package of $400 billion to $500 billion ready for Mr. Obama's signature immediately after his inauguration.

And some Senate Democrats are said to be thinking even grander -- on the order of $1 trillion.

Mr. Obama's stated goal is to save or create 2.5 million jobs.

While the desire for haste is understandable, a package this large and ambitious has huge potential for waste.