(Feb. 26, NOLA.com)  Mitch Landrieu, the former mayor of New Orleans who now is the White House “infrastructure czar,” said words in an interview the other day that desperately need to be both heard and modeled.

Congress should listen, and act accordingly.

Speaking to Advocate | Times-Picayune reporter Mark Ballard, Landrieu said “Washington needs to learn how to make decisions faster and get money down to the ground quicker where people live.” He spoke of “breaking down the stove pipes between all of the different departments…. We’re spending a lot of time in the redesigning of how the federal government is working with itself…. When you get the ‘way’ right you can build a lot of things. If you don’t get the way right, you can’t build anything.”

Landrieu didn’t exactly put it like this, but what he means is what conservatives and centrist reformers have been saying for years: Too many regulatory hurdles burden both government and the private sector, so projects take too long and cost too much. Likewise, civil service laws and rules, public-sector unions and the Administrative Procedures Act all hamstring efficiency. So too does the Davis-Bacon Act, which requires that the local “prevailing wage,” essentially meaning the union wage, be paid to workers on all federal contracts. By at least one estimate, Davis-Bacon requirements cost the federal government some $11 billion extra per year, money that otherwise could be reallocated toward more projects (or, perhaps, to debt relief).

Even conservatives who believe the 2021 “infrastructure” package was several hundred billion dollars too large (I am one of them) should wish for the money to be used to best effect. Landrieu almost certainly doesn’t support all the reforms conservatives would push, but he has a record of successfully advocating for flexibility from bureaucratic rigor mortis…. [The full column is here. And a different version ran in the Washington Examiner here.]



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