We know from watching West Wing* that when the President is serious about an Administration proposal, he sends paper and key senior staff to the Hill to push key lawmakers to act – among other actions.
So when I saw the following report from Politico, I became a lot more skeptical about the President’s State of the Union transportation proposals:
“The details for president’s State of the Union infrastructure pitch, a $40 billion “fix it first” program and a Partnership to Rebuild America, aren’t going to be immediately divulged, a White House official told MT. The official added that the proposals will “not necessarily” take the form of a legislative proposal and gave us this Washington classic on timing: “Stay tuned.”
I was already skeptical when I learned that the Fix-It-First program is allegedly to be funded through the “peace dividend” – savings from ramping down overseas military operations. Most Republicans and some Democrats want any peace dividend savings to go to paying down U.S. debt. On the other hand, the House Republican leadership’s idea last year to increase transportation funding through increased gas and oil drilling wasn’t entirely realistic either.
If the $50 billion infrastructure program sounds familiar, it’s because one year ago the President included it in his proposed 2013 budget (our story). He also proposed it in his 2011 American Jobs Act, and in 2010 (see our recap of both). Congress never acted on any of the proposals.
Transportation for America is urging folks to contact Congress to express support for Fix It First. That’s admirable, but they might need to contact the White House instead, to get the ball rolling.
We’ll likely know within a few months if the President is going to seriously pursue the fix-it-first and Partnership to Rebuild America programs. Here’s hoping he will.