This morning’s WSJ editorial on yesterday’s highway and transit bailout (see the scorecard) is a must read. After slamming the bill as “a tribute to budget gimmicks” that “does nothing to address the revenue-spending mismatch that is today’s highway fund,” the editorial offered up some serious GOP accountability:
Republicans over the years have proposed a number of innovative reforms to a federal highway program that bristles with waste and bureaucracy. These include devolving more power to the states to set priorities, slashing the billions thrown at money-losing urban mass-transit projects, streamlining environmental laws that add to construction costs, and potentially devoting some royalties from expanded federal oil and gas drilling to fund roads. Too bad they never seem to get around to implementing them.
House GOP leaders are claiming the temporary nature of this patch is designed to give them another run at reform next year, perhaps with the support of a Republican-led Senate. We’ll hold them to that. The trust fund problem has been begging for a fix for years. This latest stopgap is a dodge, not a victory.
In a letter to the editor in the Spokesman-Review, Edmund Schweitzer III writes:
“Some Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories customers have used the Ex-Im Bank for financing, at their choosing. SEL does not depend on it, nor encourage it. If the Ex-Im Bank were to disappear, I believe buyers and sellers would find attractive commercial options unencumbered by politics and special interests.”
Mr. Schweitzer’s position is clear: Thus, at this moment, I believe the charter should not be renewed.
Ironically, a Spokesman-Review editorial in 2012 cited his company as a reason the Bank should be reauthorized:
“Although Boeing Co. is by far the biggest beneficiary, in the last five years several Eastern Washington companies – SCAFCO in Spokane, Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories in Pullman, and Colmac Coil in Colville – have done more than $3 million worth of foreign business with Ex-Im’s help. Dozens, if not hundreds, of jobs have been created or sustained.”
The fifth district company, represented by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) 58%, has received $3.6 million in financial assistance from the Bank since 2007, with $1.6 million coming since 2012.
Congress should End Ex-Im.
“All told, nearly 700,000 jobs could be at risk next year.”
That was President Obama earlier this month, urging Congress to bail out the federal Highway Trust Fund (HTF). He warned failure to act would be the equivalent of Congress laying off the “entire population of Denver, or Seattle, or Boston.”
A November 2013 paper by James Sherk, Senior Policy Analyst in Labor Economics at The Heritage Foundation, provides some different numbers:
“Across the U.S., just over 300,000 Americans work in highway, street, or bridge construction—less than the population of Wichita, Kansas.”
Obama’s math just doesn’t add up.
“It’s not socialism…We’re just building roads and bridges.”
That was President Obama’s argument today as he urged Congress to bail out the federal Highway Trust Fund (HTF). In a letter sent to states yesterday, Obama’s transportation secretary Anthony Foxx “attempted to provides states with the most equitable, straightforward approach possible for managing this crisis.”
What exactly is the crisis?
Today, the Senate will consider an amendment by Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) 100% to the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (H.R.803). The amendment would require the Department of Labor (DOL) to publish the results of their impact evaluations on their website for the public to see. It would also cut the pay of senior DOL officials if they ignore the requirement to conduct the evaluations.
The transparency and accountability provided by the Lee amendment are essential: The Heritage Foundation’s David B. Muhlhausen, Ph.D. and James Sherk explain: