How Infrastructure Investment Became Political Fodder

Andrea Bernstein traces how, in four short years, partisan politics have infected discussions about investment in infrastructure.
September 25, 2012, 10am PDT | Emily Williams
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With a "D" grade from the American Society of Civil Engineers, the sad state of the nation's infrastructure is indisputable. And as recently as 2008, Republicans and Democrats agreed on the need for highway and transit funding. However, the parties' take on the issue this year could not be more divided.

At the crux of the debate is the role of federal spending in transportation infrastructure. While Republicans assert that more infrastructure spending will lead to an even greater deficit, Obama remains committed to transportation investment, including dedicating a sizable chunk of his $800 billion stimulus bill to highways, transit, and high speed rail.

Governors Christie and Cuomo are an example of the disagreement in action. Republican Governor Chris Christie is among those against federal spending, writes Bernstein, and "started a modern trend: sending billions back to the federal government for a local transit project rather than risk incurring extra debt for New Jersey taxpayers." Democrat Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York, on the other hand, went full speed ahead with his own $5 billion bridge project, claiming that "If we want this state to be what we want this state to be you have to be able to tackle a project like this."

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Published on Sunday, September 23, 2012 in Transportation Nation
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