Transportation Under a Romney/Ryan Administration

If Romney/Ryan win in November, we may know what to expect in terms of national transportation spending if they were to follow the Republican platform adopted on Aug. 28. In terms of increasing transportation revenue, it may not differ from Obama's.

The Hill's transportation blogger, Keith Laing, provides key points of the transportation platform adopted Aug. 28 by the Republican delegates in Tampa. While clear as to how transportation revenue would be spent, or not spent - a radical departure from the current administration, it is less precise on the revenue side. It appears, though, that Romney may take the same "no new user fee" (with exceptions for new highway tolls) approach that President Obama took in his first term.

"The platform makes clear that Republicans oppose other funding mechanisms that have been suggested by some hardcore transportation supporters, such as a Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) tax", Laing writes without defining the other mechanisms.

"We oppose any funding mechanism that would involve governmental monitoring of every car and truck in the nation," the GOP platform says of the VMT proposal."

President Obama, after some initial confusion with statements made by his transportation secretary, opposed not only a VMT fee, but also an increase in the gas tax, presumably because that would violate his pledge of "no increased taxes for those who earned less than $250,000."

The platform recognizes the crisis facing the Highway Trust Fund. It would appear that reducing transportation spending would figure prominently under a new transportation secretary.

"[S]ecuring sufficient funding for the Highway Trust Fund remains a challenge given the debt and deficits and the need to reduce spending. Republicans will make hard choices and set priorities, and infrastructure will be among them."

Laing writes that the platform borrows from the House version of the transportation bill signed into law on July 6. Thus it may be possible that transportation spending would be reduced to match the declining gas tax revenue that is earmarked for the Highway Trust Fund.

On the expenditure side, "reducing environmental regulations to expedite construction projects and using more money that is earmarked for transportation for road and highway projects, rather than other forms of transportation such as public transit or bicycling and pedestrian programs" would be a major departure from a the current approach overseen by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

As for Amtrak - expect Romney to attempt to privatize it.

Thanks to Eugene Wilson

Full Story: GOP platform: Cut Amtrak, privatize airport security and focus highway money on roads



Michael Lewyn's picture

silly assumption

The assumption that a party's platform governs what Presidents do is roughly as credible as an assumption that the moon will turn into green cheese if Romney is elected.

Let's look at the 2000 Republican platform:

"Our families and most states are required to balance their budgets; it is reasonable to assume the federal government should do the same."

To say that this didn't turn out to be a Bush/Cheney priority would be kind of an understatement.

Irvin Dawid's picture

Ryan's Transportation Budget Proposal (not an assumption)

Tanya Snyder of Streetsblog Capitol Hill on Aug. 22 offered a glimpse of what to expect if Romney were to follow his teammate's budget, as she points out that Romney has not indicated his own transportation plans other than privatizing Amtrak.

"Paul Ryan’s budget proposal – a banner that the Republican party has marched behind – would have slashed the transportation budget by about a third, holding spending to Highway Trust Fund levels and eliminating any programs not covered by the Trust Fund, including TIGER, the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, high-speed rail, and potentially the New Starts program for transit expansion projects.

Ryan is against virtually all spending on transportation...."

Michael Lewyn's picture

Ryan's views certainly more relevant than the platform, but-

Ryan is certainly not my kind of guy, but a few points:

1. He's not the Presidential nominee, just the Vice Presidential nominee.
2. If Romney loses, Ryan (or someone even further right like Rick Perry or Rick Santorum) will probably be the Republican Presidential nominee in '16. (Feeling lucky, Democrats?)
3. What Republicans do when they don't control the Presidency doesn't predict what they will do when they hold the Presidency, if the early 21st century is any guide. Between 1994 and 2000, they were Ryan-like in their support for smaller government. After Bush was elected, they outspent the Democrats.
4. Congress has the power of the purse (especially on issues like transportation that the President is unlikely to make a high priority)- so what happens to Congress is much more relevant to spending issues than who is President. If Obama is reelected Republican majorities will only grow, since the party in power usually loses seats in midterm elections. If Romney wins, the Democrats have a fair chance of retaking one or both houses of Congress in 2014 (or holding the Senate if they don't lose it this time)

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