» One last proposal from President Obama stakes a big claim in favor of improved public transportation instead of highway infrastructure, but given the Congressional environment, hopes for passage are slim.
If Congress’ hostility to President Barack Obama hadn’t already been apparent, the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia certainly pulled back the curtains. Suffice it to say that the administration has very little hope of making significant policy change over the next year.
The administration has taken this opportunity to emphasize the importance transportation plays in contributing to climate change.
Nonetheless, the Administration revealed its big budget proposal last week, and with it a major plan for increased investment in surface transportation. Unlike the FAST five-year bill passed in December by Congress, Obama’s budget would substantially increase funding for transportation infrastructure over the current levels.
As the following chart shows, while budget outlays for highways, transit (Federal Transit Administration), and railroads (Federal Railroad Administration) have remained
Continue reading At long last, a transportation budget that pays for itself—and recognizes the climate »
» The Obama Administration hopes to invest almost $40 billion in new and improved passenger rail infrastructure over the next five years. Good luck getting that through Congress.
It’s an annual spectacle. The President releases his budget. The budget proposes a huge expansion in spending on surface transportation, particularly in high-speed rail. Administration figures testify on Capitol Hill, hoping to raise the specter of infrastructure failure if nothing is done. The Congress responds lackadaisically, with Democrats arguing that something should be done and Republicans doing everything they can to prevent a cent more from being spent, and ultimately no one agrees to much of anything other than a repetition of the past year’s mediocre investments.
Will things be different this year?
The question is particularly relevant because the U.S. Government’s rail investment program — its authorization for allocating funds to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) will expire this year. Legislation supporting the FRA, as
Continue reading The Administration Refreshes Its Push for a Major Infusion of Funds into the National Rail Program »
» Declining federal expenditures will hit transportation spending hard. How should states and cities keep up their investments?
The Democratic Party’s big wins in last month’s national elections effectively maintained the national status quo, keeping Barack Obama in the White House, Democrats in charge of the U.S. Senate, and Republicans at the helm of the U.S. House. The Democrats have the cities to thank for their success; urban voters not only turned out to vote at high levels, but they made clear their overwhelming preference for the Democratic Party’s government investment program. In matters of transportation, Democrats in power represent a base of voters that benefits uniquely from new spending on transit, pedestrian, and biking infrastructure.
As part of his proposal to respond to the nation’s “fiscal cliff” — a government austerity mechanism imposed by the Congress a year ago — President Obama suggests investing $50 billion immediately in
Continue reading Bridging the Fiscal Cliff »
» A change in power in Washington will affect federal commitment to sustainable transportation, but so will local ballot measures.
The first two years of the Obama Administration, accompanied by Democratic Party control of the U.S. House and Senate, produced significant new investments in transportation projects nationwide. Over $10 billion was distributed to intercity rail projects across the country, new funds were devoted to streetcar and bus rapid transit lines, and the government began an unprecedented period of cooperation between the Department of Transportation and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Since early 2011, however, much of this progress has been stalled thanks to a stingy U.S. House newly controlled by the Republican Party. Their leadership, both in the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Budget Committee, has promoted a significant decrease in funding for alternative transportation. A House committee voted in favor of legislation that would eliminate the guaranteed
Continue reading The Vote 2012 »
» With Mitt Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan as presumptive Republican nominee for Vice President, the GOP is taking a clear stand on where it wants to take government. The effects on national transportation policy could be tremendous.
As chair of the House Budget Committee, Paul Ryan has assumed a prominent role in the national dialogue since the Republican Party took control of the House of Representatives at the beginning of 2011. His position there has allowed him to define the party’s position on the federal budget, the social welfare state, and, yes, even transportation. We can only assume that Mitt Romney’s decision to share the platform with Mr. Ryan implies an endorsement of the latter’s views — especially in terms of policies where Mr. Romney has not been specific.
What is obvious is that Mr. Ryan has a dramatically different view of the role of government than President Obama; indeed, his perspective
Continue reading As the U.S. Presidential Election Begins in Earnest, a Study in Contrasts »