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(116,464 posts)
Thu May 1, 2014, 10:47 AM May 2014

Maybe itís time to invest in infrastructure?

Maybe it’s time to invest in infrastructure?

By Steve Benen

A friend of mine in Baltimore emailed last night to ask if I’d heard about a landslide near where he lives. I hadn’t, but it was a doozy – part of a major street collapsed yesterday, swallowing cars and flooding railroad tracks that ran below street level.

Fortunately, and somewhat miraculously, no one was injured, but seeing the footage was a timely reminder that now would an excellent time for the United States to make some investments in transportation infrastructure.

At roughly the same time as the Baltimore slide, Michael Grunwald was reporting that the Obama administration is thinking along the same lines.

Republicans have urged the Obama Administration to propose a major transportation bill, calling America’s crumbling infrastructure a natural issue for bipartisan cooperation.

Well, on Tuesday, the Administration unveiled a four-year, $300-billion transportation bill. It included a 22% increase in highway funding, a 70% increase in transit funding, and a provision allowing states to put tolls on interstates. At a time when one in nine U.S. bridges are rated “structurally deficient,” and nearly half the public lacks access to public transit, it’s a pretty ambitious piece of legislation.


More from Grunwald’s piece:

(N)o matter how much Republicans say they care about infrastructure, they’re not going to accept any infrastructure proposals that come from President Barack Obama. They opposed his $50 billion “roads, rails and runways” proposal in 2010, and then again when it was expanded and incorporated into his American Jobs Act in 2011. They’ve blocked Obama’s plans for an infrastructure bank and a national high-speed rail network. They’ve also blocked Obama’s proposals for corporate tax reform, which is relevant, because the new GROW AMERICA Act depends on tax reform for much of its financing.

Other than its hideous acronym – it stands for Generating Renewal, Opportunity, and Work with Accelerated Mobility, Efficiency and Rebuilding of Infrastructure and Communities throughout America – GROW AMERICA has a lot of attractive features. It extends Obama’s commitment to “Fix It First,” focusing on upgrades for neglected infrastructure that will reduce the nation’s maintenance backlog rather than new projects that increase the maintenance backlog. And while transportation bills are known on Capitol Hill as “highway bills,” GROW AMERICA continues the Administration’s subtle shift towards passenger rail, freight rail, dedicated bus lanes, and other programs that don’t necessarily involve asphalt.

Obama and his team keep unveiling policy proposals like these, as if the American policymaking process were still normal and a functioning Congress stood ready to evaluate proposals on the merits. Left unsaid, however, is that just about everyone, including officials in the West Wing, realizes that the administration is going through the motions, cognizant of the fact that the legislative branch of government won’t actually do anything, even in response to good, necessary ideas...Republicans on the Ways and Means Committee made this argument rather explicitly this week, insisting that they’ll approve hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks, relying exclusively on deficit financing, but Democrats shouldn’t bother to even ask about “new spending” – on anything.

Barring an unexpected turnaround in voter-turnout models this year, it means U.S. infrastructure will simply have to wait for an indefinite number of years for a sorely needed upgrade.


Republican plan: Wait until all the brigdes and roads collapse, and then rebuild them. What about the the potential for castastrophe and death? See Republicans health care plan: Die quickly.

You May Have To Say Goodbye To Your Toll-Free Highways

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(51,122 posts)
1. Every time I drive into Manhattan it costs me about $30 in tolls.
Thu May 1, 2014, 10:51 AM
May 2014

I'm not going to pay a fee just to go a few exits to the Mall.


(8,217 posts)
2. Yes, infrastructure has been one of the items I've been urging for.
Thu May 1, 2014, 10:53 AM
May 2014

However, is it possible to do this kinda sort of like how Republicans do?

Unfunded spending? At least this is far more important than their new tax cuts for the 1%.

They have such a hard time figuring out where to get the money from. I suggest taking it from more of their half-baked plans on draining tax payer money to go back in to their hoarding.

Infrastructure at some point pays for itself due to its use and tax revenue they get from those that use it daily.



(19,429 posts)
3. Remember that stimulus money back in 2009 -- a lot of it was used for paving
Thu May 1, 2014, 10:55 AM
May 2014

It is now 5 years old and we have had an unusually harsh winter. The result is that surfaces are now in bad repair with lots of potholes and peeling blacktop.

Very little was used for real road construction or for bridges and tunnels, since larger projects are by definition not "shovel ready". They require years of studies, plans, permits, notices, public hearings, yadda-yadda-yadda.

Erich Bloodaxe BSN

(14,733 posts)
4. Past time. Time to take all of the fossil fuel subsidies
Thu May 1, 2014, 11:02 AM
May 2014

away from private shareholder profit and repurpose that money toward infrastructure and public transportation.

We need fewer cars on the roads, fewer long haul trucks, more rail.

Higher gas taxes, better public transportation.


Vashta Nerada

(3,922 posts)
7. I agree.
Thu May 1, 2014, 11:06 AM
May 2014

It's time to invest in infrastructure. Not only will it make our roads and bridges safer, it'll create a ton of jobs.


(37,428 posts)
10. It was time thirty years ago.
Thu May 1, 2014, 02:05 PM
May 2014

Every passing year of corrupt complacency adds to the principal, so to speak, and the interest has become prohibitive. Our government invests primarily in our wealthiest families, who haven't spent the last decades repairing things.

We are never going to catch up. The best we can possibly hope for is half-assed maintenance on the worst failures, and only after they fail catastrophically.

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