Private ownership sentences to ponder

Anyone keen to understand how should look at Brookfield Renewable Partners’ recent investment of up to $2 billion in Scout Clean Energy and Standard Solar. B.R.P. is a vehicle of Brookfield Asset Management, a leading global asset management firm, with around $800 billion of assets under management, and it purchased two American developers and owner-operators of wind and solar power-generating facilities. This took place six weeks after President Biden signed the I.R.A. into law.

The I.R.A. will help accelerate the growing private ownership of U.S. infrastructure and, in particular, its concentration among a handful of global asset managers like Brookfield. This is taking the United States into risky territory. The consequences for the public at large, whose well-being depends on the quality and cost of a host of infrastructure-based services, from energy to transportation, are unlikely to be positive.

A common belief about both the I.R.A. and 2021’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, President Biden’s other key legislation for infrastructure investment, is that they represent a renewal of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal infrastructure programs of the 1930s. This is wrong. The signature feature of the New Deal was public ownership: Even as private firms carried out many of the tens of thousands of construction projects, almost all of the new infrastructure was funded and owned publicly. These were public works. Public ownership of major infrastructure has been an American mainstay ever since…

So it would be truer to say that in political-economic terms, Mr. Biden, far from assuming Roosevelt’s mantle, has actually been dismantling the Rooseveltian legacy. The upshot will be a wholesale transformation of the national landscape of infrastructure ownership and associated service delivery.

That is from Brett Christophers (NYT), who is disapproving.  For an alternative view, see this WSJ Op-Ed by Katherine Boyle and David Ulevitch.


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