Highway Subsidies Jump
So much sugar is being poured into reauthorizing the highway bill - called ISTEA and pronounced Iced Tea - that the balanced-budget agreement reached just last year is seriously threatened.
Disregarding the budget caps put in place to help reach budget balance, the Senate last week voted to increase highway spending by almost 40 percent over last year's levels, approving a bill worth $214 billion over six years.
Compared to House, the bloated Senate bill looks restrained. The House wants $5 billion more than the Senate and plans to play a shell game to get it, moving highway spending off-budget to create a Social Security-style entitlement for roads. There will be no effective way to control highway spending if the off-budget move is successful.
Sadly, the House bill will get even worse when Transportation Committee Chair Bud Shuster (R-PA) adds his list containing $9 billion in member- requested highways, commonly referred to as "demonstration projects." According to Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), "It has become a choice between paying for the truly essential public safety concerns or continuing to spend for these highway demonstration projects."
Such free-spending efforts to reauthorize ISTEA, the Intermodal Surface
Transportation Efficiency Act, have bought off most opposition, as House
Budget Chairman John Kasich's (R-OH) pleas for restraint have been ignored.
Highway lobbyists and reelection minded Members are eager to bring home
highly-visible projects and there is enough special funding to keep
environmentalists and transit supporters happy. Supporters expect the bill
to pass, though neither chamber has identified offsetting spending cuts for
such dramatic increases in transportation spending.
This news comes from Taxpayers for Common Sense. For more information contact David Madland at (202) 546-8500 x111 or email@example.com . Press inquiries contact Christian Sinderman at (202) 546-8500 x114.