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.

2 minute read

September 1, 2012, 9:00 AM PDT

By Irvin Dawid

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

Tuesday, August 28, 2012 in The Hill's Transportation Blog

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