"Interest in using federal government spending to stimulate U.S. economic recovery has intensified recently in response to indicators showing significant deterioration of the economy. Policymakers at all levels of government are debating a range of options to address these problems. Some favor using traditional monetary and fiscal policies. Others, however, favor making accelerated investments in the nation's public infrastructure in order to create jobs while also meeting infrastructure needs. This report is an overview of policy issues associated with the approach of using infrastructure as a mechanism for economic stimulus. When most people think about infrastructure, they probably have in mind systems that are publicly provided and are important to the productive capacity of the nation's economy. Today, policymakers define the term more broadly to include both publicly and privately owned systems and facilities and categories that vary considerably in the degree of historic federal investment in building or rebuilding physical structures. A relatively new dimension in today's context is the notion of coupling public works with investments in environmentally friendly systems that incorporate renewable technologies or energy efficiency--called 'green infrastructure.' Academics, economists, and policymakers debate two issues concerning the contribution of infrastructure investment to the economy. One is the effects of infrastructure investment on productivity and growth, including job creation. The second related issue is the role of infrastructure spending, which is typically a long-term activity, as a short-term mechanism to stimulate a faltering economy. Research conducted over time has resulted in a general consensus that there can be positive returns on productivity of investing in infrastructure."
CRS Report for Congress, R40107
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