collapse is a great way to save money
Before the Democrats lost control of the House last year, the committee now headed by [House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John] Mica was discussing a $450 billion reauthorization bill.
The Obama administration has sought between $500 billion and $550 billion.
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the public works subcommittee, is said to be preparing a bill that would maintain funding at the previous level for two years, with an allowance for inflation since that bill was passed in 2003. That would require augmenting the Highway Trust Fund, beneficiary of gas tax revenue, with an additional $12 billion from other sources.
The Mica bill is expected to provide between $215 billion and $230 billion over six years, according to congressional staff members.
To put that in perspective, House Republicans have proposed spending over $600 billion in military spending next year alone. Their proposed increase in military spending over the next six years is almost as much as their proposed transportation budget in total.
They claim they are proposing these massive cuts because they want to reduce our future national debt burden, but while their proposals might make our balance sheet look better, that's only because our balance sheet doesn't account for the costs imposed by a crumbling infrastructure.
Let me put it this way: over the long run, would it cost more to borrow money at a low interest rate to reinforce an aging bridge, or to let the bridge continue to get older and weaker until it needs to be completely replaced because it has collapsed in the middle of a rush hour commute?
The former is obviously the wiser solution, but because it adds to our official debt, Republicans refuse to do it. Instead they'd rather kick the can down the road (no pun intended), even if that means the bridge falls right on top of your head.
If Republicans get their way, I guess the one (albeit small) bit of good news here is that if you're someone who takes public transportation to work, you probably won't get hit by the falling bridge, because Republicans would rather force you to walk to work than take the bus, or, heaven forbid, the train.