Since you brought up Ike, I'll tie this all together in another semi-rant.That's true. It's lost money. Fiscal conservatism is the first victim when the hawks control the DoD and have free rein to establish spending policies. If you oppose wasteful spending on projects that don't address our country's needs, the flag-waving and chest-thumping starts, cowing the ignorant and silencing the fearful. Few in DC have the guts to try to rein in waste in the military or bring our troops home, for fear of being accused of not "supporting our troops". Eisenhower knew that we were heading into this problem decades ago, and our country has not managed to address it effectively. Starting and perpetuating unjust, unnecessary wars is not a conservative activity by a long shot and the wasted revenue is a threat to our country's economic health.
The highway system enabled an expansion of commerce into markets large and small nationwide. While the roads didn't return a direct payback, the increase in trade yielded jobs and ultimately tax revenue. Repairing those roads does not provide the same yields - mostly prevents the revenue base from shrinking.
Also expanded under Ike, we've invested untold $ billions in nuclear research, weapons, and delivery systems. We lead the world into the nuclear age - nuclear power is OURS! Great you say - now what?
In order to realize a return on this investment, (to greatly over-simplify) the US should be using this research for peaceful purposes - like supplying electric power to the world. Had the strategy had been to build and manage nuclear plants on SELECT military bases around the world and sell the host countries power - some of those countries might have experienced economic growth and we would (again) realize a return on investment from those bases.
But NOoooo, just like domestic oil, we are now expected to turn our backs on nuclear power - because of environmental concerns. Instead, we encourage other countries to run with those technologies while we plan to build wind mills and erect solar panels. This might be a good time to mention we can't seem to move quickly with wind and solar either now because of bats, prairie dogs (or something), and again environmentalists (and coastal property owners like the Kennedy clan).
The world laughs at us. We shoot ourselves in the foot every time we allow the tail to wag the dog.
Which of course brings us back to charging the non-nuclear free world for protection again - had this started under Ike, we might be debt free.