Barack Obama

Obama v. Reagan on Bipartisanship

Dr. Steven Hayward shows the secret of Reagan’s success in bipartisanship negotiations. Dr. Hayward distills it down to his taking ownership of the situation–something that Obama fails to do.

Congress Begins Grappling With New Surface Transportation Funding Bill

The current federal surface transportation funding bill expires this summer. A crucial revenue source is the federal gas tax trust fund, now chronically insolvent. The federal gas tax hasn't been raised in 16 years, and it isn't indexed to inflation. A highway system built in the 1950s and 1960s continues to wear down under heavy use, increasing funding needs for maintenance, and capacity expansion, while improved vehicle mileage has tightened the revenue flow from the per-gallon gas tax. Congress wants to roughly double the current spending plan to nearly $500 billion for the next six years. A draft House version of the new bill has been introduced, but it's unclear where the money would come from and whether the bill can be approved by the Sept. 30 deadline some key lawmakers favor. The Obama administration instead wants to develop a stop-gap funding plan and then take up the reauthorization bill - in full - 18 months later. The timing debate aside, another concern is that the draft bill would, if approved with current House language intact, impose strict federal limits on new plans for (variable-rate electronic) tolling on interstate highways and create new federal regulations on public-private partnerships (P3s) in surface transportation. Variable-rate tolling is an increasingly popular strategy used by major metro regions on state routes and interstate highways to fund important corridor improvements and control peak-hour congestion. For several decades now, the federal government has effectively - and wisely - given metro regions broad latitude in developing and implementing congestion relief policies, including tolling new lanes on interstates, and state routes, with variable rates. And regulation of transportation P3s has essentially been left to the states. As Reuters reports below on 6/25, Transportation Sec. Ray LaHood is in the reauthorization debate underscoring the need for increased emphasis on user fees (including tolling) and private investment, and holding firm against a federal gas tax hike. It's likely to be a long and winding road to the final bill, and along the way we can expect a robust conversation about transit, tolling, the ailing gas tax and even a ground-breaking proposal to tax vehicles by the mile on all roads, a strategy tested in landmark pilot programs in Oregon and metro Puget Sound. Here are key articles on the current reauthorization dialog, which we'll keep updated. House "Blueprint" of reauthorization bill (84 p., pdf) (see p. 32 for proposed tolling restrictions) Full text of House bill (775 p., pdf) NEW: "Funding Conundrum Persists For U.S. Transpo Overhaul," Ken Orski, Cascadia Prospectus, 8/10/09 "U.S. Senate Committee OKs $20 Billion For Highway Fund," Reuters, 7/15/09 "A Road Map, Or A Road To Ruin?" Los Angeles Times editorial board, 7/1/09 "Patching Trust Fund Gap May Trump Fast OK Of New Transpo Bill," Ken Orski, Cascadia Prospectus, 6/29/09 "White House Says Transportation System Overhaul Must Wait," Washington Post, 6/26/09 'Government Estimates $20 Billion Highway Funding Shortfall," Reuters, 6/25/09 "Oberstar's Transportation Bill Begins Legislative Journey," Minnesota Public Radio, 6/23/09 "With Road Ending For Highway Law, Congress Tackles New Blueprint," McClatchy Newspapers, 6/23/09 "House Transportation Bill: Where's The Money, & Can It Pass In '09?" Ken Orski, Cascadia Prospectus, 6/22/09 "U.S. House Wants More Transit Spending, Fewer Tolls," The Newspaper, 6/22/09 "K Street Behind Oberstar's Highway Bill," The Hill, 6/22/09 "Road Indulgence," Riverside, CA Press-Enterprise, 6/22/09 "The Oberstar Transportation Bill Is Fatally Flawed," Robert Poole, Reason Foundation, Out Of Control Policy Blog, 6/19/09 "Delays Ahead: Ambitious Plans For American Transport Run Into Reality," The Economist, 6/18/09 Read More ›

High Speed Rail Can Transform Cascadia

High speed rail and improved inter-city freight rail infrastructure can better unite the Cascadia region, from British Columbia to Oregon - while reducing highway congestion and greenhouse gas emissions, and boosting the economy and tourism. We'll highlight the transformational possibilities at the Cascadia Rail Partnership Conference, May 27-29 in Seattle and Portland. Don't miss it.

North American rail is at center stage on the transportation agenda. Eight billion dollars in U.S. stimulus money is kicking off a new series of improvements to the nation's rail systems. Beneficiaries could include the Amtrak Cascades passenger rail line which runs from Portland, Oregon to Seattle, and north to Vancouver, B.C.

Since 1994, Washington, Oregon, the federal government, regional agencies and railroads have made capital and operating investments of about $1 billion in the Amtrak Cascades line. Now - with President Obama prioritizing high speed rail - is the time to build on that investment. The visioning that precedes the hard work of securing full funding for passenger and freight rail improvements has begun anew. Vancouver Sun economic affairs columnist Miro Cernetig writes that the opportunity should be seized to strengthen U.S.-Canada links via improved Northwest rail service.

Additional information:

"Ottawa's Lack Of Vision May Derail Our High-Speed Rail Dreams," Vancouver Sun, 5/18/09

"Tourism Leaders Steaming Over Train Holdup," The Province, 5/15/09

"High Speed Rail: Region Should Climb Aboard," Everett Herald, 5/15/09

"Is Cascadia's Train Coming In?" Crosscut, 5/12/09

"
Hope For High Speed Rail On the West Coast," McClatchy News/Tacoma News Tribune, 5/10/09

"Planes, Trains, And...Two Vital Projects To Relieve Air Traffic Congestion," Washington Post editorial, 5/6/09

"Megaregions And High Speed Rail," Richard Florida, Creative Class Exchange blog, The Atlantic, 5/4/09

"Mayor Backs Plan For High Speed Rail From Oregon To B.C.," The Province, 4/26/09

"Next Stop: A Faster Train From Seattle To Portland," Tacoma News Tribune, 4/21/09

"Obama's Rail Plan Not So High Speed," The Oregonian, 4/21/09

"Spain's Bullet Train Changes Nation, And Fast," Wall Street Journal, 4/20/09

"Rail Advocates Laud Federal Announcement," Seattle PI.com, 4/16/09

"High Speed Rail Gets $8 Billion Boost; Northwest Could Benefit," Associated Press/Seattle Times, 4/16/09

Rail articles archive, Cascadia Prospectus blog, 2007-2009

"Vision For High Speed Rail In America: Strategic Investment Plan," Federal Railway Administration, USDOT, 4/09

Amtrak Cascades Long Range Plan, Washington State Department Of Transportation, 2006

Statewide Rail Capacity and System Needs Study," Washington State Transportation Commission, 2006

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Obama’s first 100 days: Diplomacy abroad, a hard line at home

Today marks the end of President Barack Obama’s first 100 days, the benchmark introduced by Franklin Roosevelt in 1933, applied to every one of his successors. In foreign affairs, save holding the line in Iraq, building up forces in Afghanistan and the dramatic rescue of Capt. Phillips from the clutches of the Somali pirates, the president has relied on soft Read More ›

Senate Is Gateway to Obama’s “Change”

If Barack Obama wins the White House and the Democrats also take enough new Senate seats to get to a 60-vote supermajority, they will be able to force floor votes by invoking “cloture” to end a GOP filibuster. To grasp the impact of such an event, it is important to understand how the workings of the House and Senate differ. Read More ›

wealth-and-poverty-george-gilder

Wealth and Poverty

Originally published in 1982 and hailed as “the guide to capitalism,” the New York Times bestseller Wealth and Poverty by George F. Gilder is one of the most famous economic books of all time and has sold more than one million copies since its first release. In this influential classic, Gilder explains and makes the case for supply-side economics, proves the moral superiority of free-market capitalism, and Read More ›