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Last week, James Oberstar (D- Min), who is chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, released his draft outline for a new transportation bill that would significantly alter and improve federal transportation policy is in this nation. But the Obama administration is fighting any Congressional approval of such a bill until AFTER the 2010 midterm elections.

First, some highlights of the new draft transportation bill. Here is a great overview and analysis of this important piece of legislation.

The most exciting aspect of the bill to me is the $50 billion for high speed rail. This represents a significant federal investment in quality rail transit. Of course, China and Spain are spender far more on high speed rail despite having much smaller economies.

Also, the draft bill would create a National Infrastructure Bank, a crucial component to securing needed extra funding for infrastructure projects.

The total pricetag of the bill is $450 billion, a 57% increase over the 2005 version.

Of course, the Obama administration has been pushing Congress to delay passage of a new transportation bill until after the 2010 midterm elections. This is just the latest in a series of disappointments and political cowardice for me by the Obama administration. The administration wants to extend the current federal transportation bill by 18 months, something neither Oberstar or ranking House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee member John Mica (R-FL) support.

And the Senate has been more than receptive to the idea of stalling the passage of a new transportation bill and go along with the administration's spinelessness.

Why, you may ask? Because no one can agree on how to pay for this bill. This is a lame copout on so many levels. First, the far more expensive and useless war in Iraq has no funding source other than general revenues. And second, there is a pretty obvious solution: RAISE THE GAS TAX!!! The federal gas tax stands at a little over 18 cents per gallon and hasn't been raised since 1993!! No wonder the federal highway trust fund is broke!! Also, cutting the bloated military budget, cracking down on corporate tax shelters, and raising income taxes on the richest Americans would easily fund this much needed transportation bill.

Unfortunately, we are finding out more every day just how chickenshit Democrats in the legislative and executive branches really are.

Originally posted to buildrail on Thu Jun 25, 2009 at 04:44 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (7+ / 0-)

    We need 200+ mph grade separated high speed rail and free universal 100% government funded health care

    by buildrail on Thu Jun 25, 2009 at 04:44:59 PM PDT

  •  Also I Should Add (5+ / 0-)

    That there is no better way to spur job creation and quality of life improvements in this country than investing in infrastructure. We need a new transportation bill THIS YEAR!!

    We need 200+ mph grade separated high speed rail and free universal 100% government funded health care

    by buildrail on Thu Jun 25, 2009 at 04:46:07 PM PDT

  •  Yeah (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    theran, BYw, buildrail, MCinNH, Cpt Robespierre

    We need better passenger rail here in the US. I am glad that Obama has done much more for public transportation than other presidents, but I wish that he would do more.

  •  Great Diary Buildrail BUT (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    expect a backlash from those at this web site who thinks Obama walks on water.  I agree with everything you write when you talk about 'political cowardace' but to lots of the bots here, those are fighting words.

    "Tyranny & oppression are just as possible under democratic forms as under any other...democracy is a life & involves continual struggle." Robert LaFoll

    by fflambeau on Thu Jun 25, 2009 at 05:41:36 PM PDT

  •  High Speed Rail needs lots of money (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BYw, buildrail, MCinNH

    but curiously gets very little from Obama. May be it's because Obama walks on water, indeed, so does not need rail.
    By comparison, roads get more than 100 billion from general funds (so why is not the gasoline tax propped up? In most of Europe it's like 4 or 5 bucks per gallon, or more, even from massive oil exporters such as Norway).

    Patrice Ayme Tyranosopher

    by patriceayme on Thu Jun 25, 2009 at 05:46:51 PM PDT

  •  Thanks for the Comments (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BYw, MCinNH, Cpt Robespierre

    I guess transportation isn't a very sexy topic here on DailyKos but it is vitally important to me. After all, transportation and infrastructure impact how we get around, the water we drink, and whether or not the lights come on when we flip the switch.

    We need 200+ mph grade separated high speed rail and free universal 100% government funded health care

    by buildrail on Thu Jun 25, 2009 at 05:46:55 PM PDT

  •  Very High Speed Rail is expanded massively (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BYw, buildrail

    in Europe, all the way to Russia (which has purchased French and German tech, and tech transfers). Newest lines are made for 250 miles per hour during the turns.

    Patrice Ayme Tyranosopher

    by patriceayme on Thu Jun 25, 2009 at 05:49:35 PM PDT

  •  Thank you for the diary (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BYw, buildrail, Cpt Robespierre

    I agree whole heartedly. After spending a summer in Europe and utilizing their rail systems, I came home very disappointed at our lack of transportation systems. It is something that needs action sooner rather than later.

    "If knowledge can create problems, it is not through ignorance that we can solve them." -Isaac Asimov

    by brownd9 on Thu Jun 25, 2009 at 06:39:47 PM PDT

    •  I had so much fun riding European trains (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      last July. Italy, Croatia, Austria, Germany. It was really fun and fast. (And I rode the TGV in February in France last year, too).

      But I also have fun riding trains in North America, even if they're mostly slower. I've now crossed the continent 17 times by rail, and I still enjoy it. It's a great way to see the US and Canada. I'm going to get my 48th US state this summer!

      Starboard Broadside: Firing all guns at the Right since September 2008!

      by Cpt Robespierre on Thu Jun 25, 2009 at 08:59:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  It seems (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    like the White House just doesn't want to take on this fight this Congress and have to ask for another vote in favor of a tax increase from freshmen reps. Which is really too bad. Hopefully Obestar can fight hard and get them to back down. Beacuse this is a area that he is absolutely right on. It's far from a perfect bill. I'd like to see 50/50 split between roads and mass or alternative transit. But it's a very good start, particularly for rail which is a big winner.

    One thing I haven't been able to find good info about and haven't had the time to dig for. What does this bill do for biking and streetcars. I know Jim is a big biking advocate and Minneapolis (which isn't in his district but is in his state) is trying to build a new streetcar system based off the successful one in Portland. Anyone have good resources on that?

    John McCain: Beacuse lobbyists should have more power

    by Populista on Thu Jun 25, 2009 at 10:52:45 PM PDT

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