Congress gets courted by the pro-privatization lobby

Link to article here. Let’s remember that the Minnesota bridge collapse was deemed an engineering flaw not a result of age. Having a public bank get cozy with private hogs at the trough sends up a flurry of red flags. Follow the money and campaign accounts…Dodd and Hagel are far too willing to sell out the public interest.

If the federal government would stop diverting 40% of our federal gas taxes away from roads, and if it would stop loading up spending bills with more than 6,000 earmarks like it did on the last federal highway bill, there would be PLENTY of money for the nation’s infrastructure. They know it; however, they’d rather spew the pro-toll propaganda that creates an artificial “crisis” that only the hogs at the trough can solve!

March 11, 2008
Senate Panel Considers Public-Private Partnership for Infrastructure Funding
The Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee held a hearing Tuesday on legislation to create a public-private partnership to finance needed improvements in the nation’s infrastructure.

The bill, sponsored by Chairman Christopher J. Dodd , D-Conn., and Chuck Hagel , R-Neb., was introduced Aug. 1, the same day an Interstate highway bridge collapsed in Minneapolis, killing 13.

“Some might say that our legislation is ‘too expensive,’ or that ‘we can’t afford to implement such a policy.’ I say we can’t afford not to.” Dodd said.

Hagel said the national infrastructure bank envisioned in the bill would be able to leverage private capital to supplement the current levels of public spending.

“The federal government does not have and will not have the resources to appropriate the required funding necessary to meet our future national infrastructure goals,” he said.

All sides agree that the nation’s transportation infrastructure — especially highways and bridges — needs help if it is to survive projected surges in population, freight traffic and trade. But everyone seems to have a different plan to generate the necessary revenue.

A Jan. 15 report by the 12-member National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission recommended raising the 18.4-cents-a-gallon federal gasoline tax to 40 cents a gallon over five years to help raise at least $225 billion a year for transportation improvements. The commission also urged the federal government to assume more of the financing burden from states.

The federal government currently covers about 40 percent of the nation’s transportation costs. President Bush’s fiscal 2009 budget request proposes $57.1 billion for the Transportation Department, a 10 percent cut from fiscal 2008. Of that total, $39.4 billion would go to highways, about $1.8 billion less than Congress appropriated in fiscal 2008.