Marine Transportation System

In Uncategorized on June 21, 2009 at 4:01 am

…Oberstar told BNA that the White House’s plan is “terribly detrimental” and “irresponsible.” Oberstar said… [he] did not expect [House] leadership to try to oppose his ambitious agenda. (Source: BNA)

This is strong rhetoric aimed at the White House.  The respective stances of the Administration and the House transporation chairman are not surprising, but these words do have a sharpness that if anything reminds us that the prerogatives of institutions and the priority agendas of leaders don’t take a back seat to party allegiance.  For quite some time Oberstar has aimed to put his stamp on a major restructuring of the failing surface transportation policy.  Indeed he and the White House likely agree to a great extent on major elements of a new policy.  But the White House calculus in calling for an 18 month delay on the issue–thus postponing a politically taxing tax debate–appears to have little to do with the imperative to solve significant policy and program problems (although one can see the benefit of allowing certain policy discussions to ripen a bit more).  The proposed postponement has everything to do with everything else that is on the White House agenda.  ~   Let’s acknowledge that transportation just doesn’t rise anywhere near the top of the tall stack of do-now issues in the Oval Office.  Furthermore I’m not sure the trillions in the economic recovery package are an indicator of a president’s strong interest in transportation.  It was a means to pump money into the economy and create jobs.  As it happened, it also gave him an opportunity to put a personal imprint on transportation through his initiative on hi-speed rail.    ~    It’s terrific that he is pressing to upgrade and increase passenger rail service in the US.  But if that and “livable communities”–also a very important objective–end up being the highlights of the president’s term as it regards transportation initiatives then the search may continue for a successor to Eisenhower.  But let’s not abandon hope just yet. –  Pbea

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