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CSE Urges Congress to Avert Fiscal "Train Wreck" on Transportation Bill

02/10/2004

Over the past two years, the federal government has been on an unprecedented spending spree, running up trillions of dollars in new deficit spending and future entitlement liabilities.

Thanks in part to pressure from grassroots activists concerned about America’s long-term financial health, President Bush and true fiscal conservatives in Congress are preparing to slow the runaway spending train. Their target: the massively bloated and wasteful Transportation reauthorization bill being debated in Congress this week.

CSE salutes President Bush for threatening to veto the bill if it contains irresponsible new tax increases and/or new borrowing. To further strengthen the hand of the President and his fiscally responsible allies on Capitol Hill, this week CSE Members are launching a campaign to generate grassroots support for a responsible transportation bill.

President Bush proposes spending $256 billion on transportation over the next six years—an enormous amount, but one that looks prudent compared to the House and Senate proposals to spend $375 billion and $318 billion, respectively. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee also wants to raise the gas tax by 5.4 cents per gallon and index it to inflation so that there is an automatic tax increase every year.

Just as troubling as the new taxes and spending is the specter of a "re-regulation amendment" to the bill to increase government meddling in the railroad industry. De-regulation of freight rail has been an enormous success-- since 1980, rail labor productivity has tripled, and capital productivity has doubled-- and Congress needs to get out of the way and let businesses compete.

CSE President Paul Beckner made the following comments:

"Congress needs to restrain spending and resist raising taxes. Transportation policy reforms, such as repealing the Davis-Bacon requirements, which make road projects more expensive and the end of federal subsidies for Amtrak would facilitate such fiscally responsible efforts."

"Thanks to the fiscal recklessness of the 108th Congress, the transportation reauthorization bill is now about a lot more than our transportation infrastructure. It has become a test of President Bush’s leadership and a test of whether this Congress can ever act responsibly when it comes to spending. CSE and our activists all across the country are watching this debate closely, and we’ll be working hard to support President Bush and the leaders in Congress who want to produce a responsible transportation bill."