This seems to fly in the face of Obama's often stated goals for America to consume less foreign oil and emit less greenhouse gasses.
Transit advocates say Oberstar — a supporter of transit himself — has been telling them he had a "shouting match" with Summers, who doubted whether transit money could be spent fast enough to stimulate the economy. And, as least so far, the Summers view is reflected in the House bill, H.R. 1.
According to Oberstar's spokesman James Berard, Oberstar met with Summers two weeks ago, on January 13, and "expressed his concern" about the level of transit funding in the bill. Oberstar wanted $12 billion, plus $5 billion for inter-city railroads.
When the House bill was unveiled last week, it had forty percent fewer funds: $9 billion for transit and another $1 billion for rail.
This tells me that Larry Summers has Obama's ear when it comes to fashioning the $800 Billion Stimulus Bill. If Larry Summers had that much influence, it makes me question the wisdom of the whole makeup of the Stimulus Bill.
House transportation committee chair James Oberstar is the one with the best idea here.
On MSNBC's "The Rachel Maddow Show" Friday night, Congressman Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., added to the impression that Summers was behind the cut in transit. Speaking of President Barack Obama, DeFazio said, "I think he is ill-advised by Larry Summers. Larry Summers hates infrastructure and some of these other economists — they were part of creating the problem and now they are going to solve the problem. They don't like infrastructure." But DeFazio stopped short of saying orders were coming directly from Summers. "That's not clear," he told Maddow.
I thought Larry Summers was a poor choice for Obama's director of the White House's National Economic Council, and this just confirms that view.