State and local lawmakers have been in crisis mode recently, as D.C. politicians try to figure out how to keep the Highway Trust Fund solvent. But folks in Utah and Pennsylvania have a much less frenzied outlook than their counterparts in other states.
In Utah, federal funds make up only 20 percent of their total transportation budget. That’s why John Gleason, spokesman for the Utah Department of Transportation, says his state is better equipped than others to cope with cuts in federal funds.
In Pennsylvania, PennDOT spokesman Rich Kirkpatrick said, “We’re in a position where we don’t have to alter our plans; we can weather this immediate crisis.”
“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?
In 2012, 61-percent of House Republicans voted to reauthorize and expand the Export-Import Bank. Just two years later, party leaders feel compelled to call for its elimination.
House Republicans’ efforts to get to the bottom of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) scandal of targeting conservative groups for their political beliefs under the leadership of then-IRS official Lois Lerner are being met with continued obstruction.
Not only have two years worth of Lois Lerner’s emails from January 2009 through April 2011 been lost, but now the IRS has revealed they cannot produce the records of six other IRS employees involved in the agency’s targeting of conservative groups.
IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said that the IRS had lost two years of Lerner’s emails due to a hard drive crash. The agency was able to produce 24,000 Lerner emails from the 2009 to 2011 because Lerner had copied in other IRS employees, but emails to outside groups or government agencies prior to 2011 are apparently lost.
Congress and the media have taken note of conservative opposition to reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank this September, and they’ve picked up on our willingness to take politicians to task for Ex-Im Bank related cronyism. But as CQ.com notes, the effort to end the Bank is part of a “deeper phenomenon” (sub. req’d):
[E]ven if the bank is reauthorized, there’s a longer-term and deeper phenomenon occurring: the growth within conservative ranks of opposition to traditional Chamber of Commerce Republican positions, including but not limited to the Ex-Im Bank.
“Traditional Chamber of Commerce Republican” is no complement. From a conservative perspective, “the Chamber and the Business Roundtable are proving to be friends first of big business, not struggling American workers or would-be entrepreneurs.”