U.S. Markets open in 5 hrs 19 mins

Larry Summers: Infrastructure critics are 'quite misguided'

Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers believes that both Democrats and Republicans can work together on fixing America’s ailing infrastructure.

Summers told Yahoo Finance’s editor-in-chief, Andy Serwer, in an interview that many GOP lawmakers who are against infrastructure spending have a “quite misguided” attitude.

“I’ll let the GOP lawmakers speak for themselves. I think it’s a bit of a reflex, anti-government attitude that I think is quite misguided. I mean, look, this isn’t a matter of big white elephant projects,” Summers told Serwer in the video interview posted above.

He noted that the American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that potholes in American roads cost motorists the equivalent of $0.75 a gallon in gasoline tax.

“And I thought, if you’re in the GOP, you were supposed to be against taxes, and for things that removed tax-like burdens from the American people. So, I have to say, I really don’t understand the logic of the opposition.”

REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Summers continued: “But look, I think the Democrats should recognize that it’s about output, not about input. And that yes, we need to spend more on infrastructure. Yes, we need to do more infrastructure investment. But it’s also important that we do better cost/benefit analysis, and we choose the most important projects.”

The economist and Harvard professor added that it’s important to find ways to streamline regulatory approvals so that the projects can be completed in a reasonable timeframe. He also notes that it’s important to figure out how to do the infrastructure projects in an inexpensive way that’s as good for the economy as possible. He thinks it’s important in some spheres to involve the private sector more than has been done previously.

“So, I think it’s a bipartisan potential area, with the deal being — Democrats want more, conservatives want better along a number of dimensions. And instead of having a politics of either/or, we need to have a politics of both/and. Which in this case, means both more spending on infrastructure and a set of changes that makes it more effective.”

More from our interview with Larry Summers:

Full Interview: