Take President Obama, who’s been harping about transportation funding, not because it’s a national priority, but because it serves a host of other goals of his:
1. Obama changing the subject to transportation is meant to distract us from a rash of his scandals and policy failures.
When the border crisis, the IRS scandal, the lawsuit filed against you by the House Speaker, and the 13 unanimous Supreme Court rulings against you in the last two years get you down, just stage a photo op of yourself trying out a Knight Rider simulator. That’s how Obama handles the pressure. After visiting Texas to raise money for Congressional Democrats and stage a photo op drinking beer and playing pool—but not visiting the border—President Obama flew to McLean, Virginia to tour a transportation research facility: about the least critical place for him to be on Earth right now.
2. Dwelling on transportation reflects Obama’s lack of interest in foreign policy and the many international crises unfolding at the moment, and his preference for focusing on massively increasing domestic spending. Obama favors such profligacy, even though he expects the electorate to be too stupid not to notice that he’s been requesting and getting transportation funding for five-and-a-half years and has little to show for it.
What ever happened with that trillion-dollar stimulus package that was supposed to address our infrastructure woes and generate tens of thousands of shovel-ready jobs? Time and again since 2009 we’ve heard from Democrats that, well, we haven’t gotten quite enough funding for transportation, so we’re going to need to raise gas taxes and corporate taxes to rustle up a few more dollars, and then everything will run smoothly and we’ll never ask for extra funds again.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) press release for Obama’s request gushes that it “reflects President Obama’s vision for a four-year surface transportation reauthorization bill that would create millions of jobs and lay the foundation for long-term competitiveness, rebuilding crumbling roads and bridges…” I think we’ve heard that spiel before, and it gets less convincing every time the administration repeats it.
3. Emphasizing transportation gives Obama an excuse to lecture Republicans and dredge up an election-year issue to help Senate Democrats.
In McLean, Obama berated Republicans for not appropriating enough money for federal spending on roads and bridges. Speaking several hours before the House passed an $11 billion stopgap transportation bill that funds highway maintenance through next May, Obama scolded, “Congress shouldn’t pat itself on the back for averting disaster for a few months, kicking the can down the road for a few months, careening from crisis to crisis.”
This is rich coming from Obama, under whom the Senate failed for three consecutive years to pass or propose a federal budget, said recklessness precipitating years of fiscal cliffs, debt ceiling crises, and last-minute continuing resolutions.
And those fiascos concerned the entire federal budget. Obama’s FY15 request for the DOT is a mere $77 billion ($302 billion over four years), compared to the FY14 federal budget request of $3.77 trillion. Apparently we can ignore the entire federal budget for three years, but must obsess over one sliver that Obama wants to focus on right now.
4. If passed, the bill would service a host of far-left causes.
Obama’s transportation bill is motivated, not by a desire to see more cars and trucks on the road facilitating commerce and raising our standard of living, but an obsession with impractical high-speed rail, bike and pedestrian lanes, erosion prevention, global warming reduction, and showing that we can blow as much of our federal budget on transportation as China.
DOT’s press release announces that one of the bill’s benefits is “training women, minorities, and veterans to fill the jobs gap in transit through innovative new workforce development programs.” That’s about a step up in relevance to the department’s mission from NASA’s goal of promoting outreach to Muslims.
5. Most of all, Obama’s bill is designed to keep transportation and other areas of funding grounded within the federal government and prevent them from migrating to the state and local level.
Though the House’s stopgap measure passed by a large margin, some conservative Republicans objected. They favor cutting gas taxes and federal transportation aid and leaving construction projects to states and localities. But Obama opposes decentralization of spending, as it would undercut his claim “You didn’t build that.” Getting Washington out of the transportation arena would give the lie to the notion that private companies and innovators can’t do anything without the largesse of the federal government.
So the next time Obama or Congressional Democrats get on their soapboxes and lecture you about what you really need to be focusing on—transportation funding, student loans, the War on Women—just peek behind their lecterns and see what they’re really hiding.
- Editorial: Highways Need a Higher Gas Tax (rss.nytimes.com)
- Obama hits road for transportation funding push (toledoblade.com)
- President Obama to visit I-495 bridge in Delaware (6abc.com)
- Obama administration warns states that road funds near gone (reuters.com)
- Obama Presses Congress for Long-Term Transportation Bill (rss.nytimes.com)