Playing the Fiddle While Bridges Teeter

A sobering report in today’s Washington Post:

The United States is saddled with a rapidly decaying and woefully underfunded transportation system that will undermine its status in the global economy unless Congress and the public embrace innovative reforms, a bipartisan panel of experts concludes in a report released Monday.

U.S. investment in preservation and development of transportation infrastructure lags so far behind that of China, Russia and European nations that it will lead to “a steady erosion of the social and economic foundations for American prosperity in the long run.”

…Co-chaired by two former secretaries of transportation – Norman Y. Mineta and Samuel Skinner – the group estimated that an additional $134 billion to $262 billion must be spent per year through 2035 to rebuild and improve roads, rail systems and air transportation.

“We’re going to have bridges collapse. We’re going to have earthquakes. We need somebody to grab the issue and run with it, whether it be in Congress or the White House,” Mineta said Monday during a news conference at the Rayburn House Office Building.

The best part is how this report comes out just a few weeks before the “Tea Party”-emboldened GOP is widely forecast to take control of the U.S. House of Representatives. It’s going to be awfully hard to pay for all that needed infrastructure once we’ve cut the federal government “in half” like Scott Tipton wants, isn’t it? Here in Colorado, how are we even supposed to think about fixing the hundreds of defective bridges in the state, let alone keep pace with needed new development, if we vote away all the tools necessary to do so?

This is where the ideology meets reality–and loses. You’re not supposed to be thinking about this in rational terms. You’re not supposed to ask, since Colorado already has such a comparatively low tax burden to most other states, and resultant funding levels for just about everything in the nether reaches of those same state rankings–why more cuts are “necessary.” You’re not supposed to ask Tipton what the country would actually look like with a federal government chopped “in half,” just like you’re not supposed to ask what happens to bridges if you don’t maintain them. You’re just so angry about all this “spending,” throw the bums out! Right?

It’s like that warning you shouted in a bad dream, danger ahead, but nobody can hear you.

86 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. bjwilson83 says:

    Didn’t we just spend a trillion on infrastructure in the so called “stimulus”? Either throwing money at the problem doesn’t work, or our infrastructure is fine. Either way, it’s no reason to spend more.

    And good luck preventing those earthquakes.

  2. JeffcoDemoJeffcoDemo says:

    our bridges and roads will become more efficient as we spend less on them.

  3. It was just 3 weeks ago that Sen. Bennet (D-CO) killed the $50 billion stimulus for “infrastructure”.

    And now you’re preemptively blaming the GOP for not fully funding a 25 year transportation plan?


    Also, how much of the Mineta-Skinner plan is wasted on rail?

    It’s one thing to rebuild roads and bridges, it’s another to dump it into unused mass transit.


  4. JO says:

    Bennet is so terrorized by you silly Teabaggers and the furor you’ve whipped the country into that he caved on something important.

    Context here was infrastructure and additional stimulus spending to (a) fix it and (b) create jobs.

    Any reason to think that the next time the silly Teabaggers create a furor that the incumbent junior senator won’t “cave on something important?” [YOUR words, not mine.]

    Question: Does this fall under the category “With Friends Like This…”? OR is this a case of “That’s the Way It Is/Was/Will Be…”?

    • Ralphie says:

      Because your Bennet-bashing is getting old.  The primary ended in August.

      You remind me of the Japanese soldiers who holed up in jungles and didn’t know the war was over for years.

    • JeffcoBlueJeffcoBlue says:

      I know who, as a group, I will hold responsible. And that is the Romanoff Kool-Aid drinkers who

      1. Convinced themselves that a hypercautious technocrat DLC grad was somehow more progressive than Bennet, and

      2. Having created a false hero, proceeded to hold the incumbent Democrat to that false standard, demoralizing the base when he doesn’t deliver.

      I’d love to talk to you about why Bernie Sanders didn’t kill health care reform over a public option either, but what would be the point? You’ve already passed your sniveling little judgment.

      • JO says:

        it will be because more people voted for Buck. Full stop.

        Why might that be? Candidate explanations:

        –Bennet concentrated on social issues (“Buck is too extreme…”) instead of on what voters cared about, viz. the economy, including putting forth some concrete ideas on how to address unemployment.

        –Independents/Unaffilated voters swung towards Buck instead of Bennet, possibly because of the reason above or the one below.

        –Bennet was a dismal failure as a candidate, which can be read as concentrating on issues that were beside the point OR as coming across as (to quote one of his own staffers) “a cardboard candidate who isn’t even good looking.”

        –Bennet failed to reach out/persuade Romanoff supporters to support him. Bennet would have to lose by a very small margin for this to be relevant in the least.

        IF you think comments in this blog are swaying large numbers of voters, well, comrade, I can understand your reference to Kool-Aid(r)–a subject you brought up, not I.

        [I do wonder, sometimes, why a certain claque of users of this site simply cannot bring themselves to click Post without including some attempt at personal insult (“sniveling little judgment,” “idiot,” “moron,” etc.), as if these made the least difference to anyone at all–the target, other readers–or shed any light on any subject of interest. The only impact is to shed light, such as it is, on the typists! But, whatever…]

  5. brio says:

    Sadly, not.  The ideology has been winning, and will continue to win for the foreseeable future.  It’s the country as inherited by our children that will lose.

  6. parsingreality says:

    Just picked that up today from David Brooks.  He was pointing out that conservative or liberal, California’s governors and leaders for some 40 years had a progressive-market economy.

    Both sides understood that investing in public infrastructure pays off big time.  Once upon a time, the finest colleges and universities, huge water projects, freeways in 1948, and so on.  

    It’s money well spent and that pays great dividends.  Compare that to armaments.  

    • DavidThi808DavidThi808 says:

      It’s now all in salaries and benefits. I think the Republicans have a very valid point the the public sector unions have seriously corrupted our spending priorities.

      • Laughing Boy says:

        I love you.  In a man-crush way.

        • parsingreality says:

          Ha ha, you know that, too.

          Actually, the matter of public sector wages is one piece of the puzzle that is The Failed State of California.  

          Brooks was focused on the changed politics of what was mutual understanding that state investment was good for business.  That both Pubs and Dems understood this and supported the expenditures.

          There was an editorial in the paper here a month ago courtesy of Cato or II, I don’t recall which, which looked at the wages of public employees.  They said what I’ve been saying for years: The old social agreement of low-ish wages for public sector employees was compensated by job security and good retirement.  Somehow, over the years, public sector employees kept the security and retirement and moved their wages to at least that of, and often more, of the private sector.

          I saw the old guard with my mother as a teacher.  I saw the new guard with my sister as a sheriff officer.  She was WAY overpaid and benefited when you figure that she was, in essence, a mid level manager.  No mid level manager in private business would have made as much, to say nothing of the job security and early retirement.  

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