The Political Reality of Highway Spending
The last major highway bill was passed in 2005.
From the Heritage Foundation in 2005: "With the House proposing $370 billion against the Senate’s $318 billion, the President ultimately forced both sides to accept $284 billion as the upper limit on spending, and that number became a part of both bills. But while the President won on total spending, Congress apparently believed that its consolation prize was the right to waste the money on frivolous programs that provided little or no safety and mobility to the motorists whose taxes fund the program."
From CBS News in 2005: Congress passed sweeping highway and mass transit legislation that will send $284 billion to the states to build and fix roads, create thousands of new jobs and — lawmakers hope — save lives and cut hours wasted in traffic jams.
The bill "will affect every American in some way," said Sen. James Jeffords, I-Vt. "The impact of this bill will be felt for decades to come."
The bill is also stuffed with thousands of so-called "earmarks," projects big and small that influential members of Congress have put in to by-pass state highway department priorities and make a splash in their home districts.
Taxpayers for Common Sense, which lists 6,361 of these projects valued at $23 billion, and other watchdog groups say such projects are wasteful, handed out as political rewards.
From the Cato Institute in 2005: You may recall the highway bill that Congress passed in July. It was the biggest porkfest in history -- more than 13,000 individual projects awarded federal tax dollars in an orgy of logrolling and back-scratching.
Among the most notorious projects were two bridges in Alaska, dubbed the "bridges to nowhere." The bill included $223 million for a bridge linking Gravina Island to the town of Ketchikan in Alaska. According to Taxpayers for Common Sense, federal taxpayers will eventually pay $315 million for this bridge. Here’s the deal: Ketchikan is a town of 8,000 people (13,000 in the whole county, and population is declining). Its airport is on the nearby Gravina Island. Right now you have to take a 7-minute ferry ride from the airport to the town. To save people that 7-minute ride, Alaska wants to build a $315 million bridge.
MP: Perhaps instead of building "bridges to nowhere," Congress should have paid more attention to existing bridges in need of repair?
Thanks to Larry Kudlow.