That maintenance deficit doesn't appear in the figures tossed around when we talk about the size of the budget deficit, but the total amounts may be even higher. Our bridges, highways, dams, levies, rail systems, power grid, power generation, broadband, water, sewage and food inspection infrastructure is all languishing from years of neglect and insufficient investment. These things are not luxuries and they are not options. They are national emergencies -- bright flashing red lights on the national control panel.
Spending on projects like these is exactly what non-stupid economics prescribes for a financial crisis like the one we're currently facing. It's also something we desperately needed to do anyway. Such spending may increase annual deficits in the short term, but investing in infrastructure pays long-term dividends that will more than pay for themselves over time. What we have here, in other words, is a solution neatly divided into two crises.
As long as we don't listen to the McCains, the Brokaws, the Lehrers, the editorial wisemen and the rest of the Hoover Brigade, we should be OK.