President Barack Obama’s proposal to spur the ailing U.S. economy by investing in transportation infrastructure is an effort to restart a stalled and chaotic process detailed by the Center for Public Integrity last year.
In a campaign-style appearance in Milwaukee on Sunday, the president proposed $50 billion in new spending next year on highways, railroads and runways. That money would serve as the down payment on a new, multiyear transportation bill that would also create a national infrastructure bank to help fund such projects.
A new bill is necessary because the previous transportation bill expired last October, and Congress has repeatedly stalled in its efforts to pass a new, multiyear bill. Last fall, a major Center project, “The Transportation Lobby,” detailed efforts to create new legislation amidst intense lobbying by almost 1,800 special interest groups. The project also illustrated how a cacophonous policy-making process for transportation had traditionally resulted in grab-bag of projects that did not serve any overriding national transportation strategy.