Additionally, though jobs can take time to materialize out of infrastructure programs, some projects are more "shovel-ready" than others, says Ross Eisenbrey, vice president of the liberal Economic Policy Institute. While planning a roadway can take time, repairs on an existing public school can be started much more quickly.
It is difficult to dispute that tax cuts and direct government payments could provide rapid stimulus, but like any policy, those also have their downsides. "It's true that if you want an instant stimulus, you'd send people checks. ... And a certain amount of that would be lost. Some would go to savings and paying back debt, and a fair amount would go to buying things that are not made in the U.S.," says Ross Eisenbrey, vice president of the liberal Economic Policy Institute.
Eisenbrey says that, though imperfect, infrastructure spending should be a part of a broader package of policies aimed at creating jobs. The president's jobs package appears to be just that, and will likely include extended payroll tax cuts as part of a mix of old and new ideas, as Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod told CNN's State of the Union over the weekend. The current, hyperpartisan Congress appears less than likely to pass such a package, however. This could allow the president to blame Republicans in Congress in part for economic strife as he goes into his 2012 reelection campaign. Of course, that's no comfort to nearly 14 million unemployed Americans.