littleguy commented on the blog post Boehner Maneuvers for Conference Committee on Transportation Bill
There is $11b to $13b more in the Senate bill than in the extensions.
The Chamber and other business lobbyists/Republican donors want that money badly. The industry needs it. Otherwise, lots of folks go bankrupt. Soon. That is why there is a conference.
The $$ represents about 600,000 jobs through the life of the Senate bill, and leaves a few dollars in the highway trust fund at the end. Labor wants it badly. That’s why there was a Senate bill.
You are correct that the Tea Party wants disaster.
Not clear where the negotiations end.
littleguy commented on the blog post House GOP Will Try to Attach Keystone XL Pipeline to Surface Transportation Bill
Dayen keeps up with a lot, but he is way behind on this story.
The WH wants to make transportation a piggy bank for Wall Street. It solves two problems from the WH point of view. It pumps up Wall Street. It takes expenditures off the Federal books. This is something Obama actually believes in.
Moment to moment, the WH is willing and able to play any press release for applause, and does, but over the long term, this is the direction that Obama favors.
This is why Obama favored the Mica approach in July 2011, to cut transportation to the level of the Highway Trust Fund (gas tax receipts), a 30% cut that would further decimate an already battered construction union economy. Obama wants to cut Federal funding, and then add The Infrastructure Bank as the rescue mechanism. Put Wall Street in charge. What could possibly go wrong?
Anyway, Plan A went down when Mica got bad press for employment cuts, and the WH had to retreat to the shadows.
Of course, at times, the WH will whip out $500 billion spending plans and such, but that is just to whip up the base with cotton candy. There is never any realistic funding proposed, and everyone knows it is a lie.
Into the fall, the WH “Plan B” was for Congress to fail. That way, Obama could run against Congress, point to disaster, and say it would have been so much better in the WH dream world.
To the WH chagrin, the Congress did not completely fail. The Senate passed a bill that would fund the 30% missing from gas receipts. Buy some time.
The WH wants the Senate bill to fail for two reasons. First, Obama wants the Bank, and wants a crisis next December to “force” Congress to reduce Federal spending on transportation, and move spending “off the books” to the Bank. Second, Obama wants to run against the failed Congress in the fall.
The Republicans in the House are in disarray. Many would support the Senate bill, but they fear Tea Party primary challenges. The Tea Party wants to destroy Davis Bacon wage rules, and to cut Federal spending generally. For the Tea Party, the collapse of current Federal spending levels is a good first step.
In the disarray, the only thing Republicans can agree upon is that it would be a good idea to change the subject from infrastructure to “gas prices.”
The pipeline issue serves the purposes of both the WH and the Republicans.
For the WH, the pipeline is win-win. It might collapse the Senate bill by preventing passage if the Green vote holds firm. WH wants collapse, as preliminary step to privatizing transportation (Bank). Alternatively, if the Senate bill passes with Keystone, then the WH will proclaim itself a bi-partisan leader, and take the thorny Keystone issue out of the fall campaign. (Keystone is popular in Montana and such.)
For the House Republicans, the pipeline is also win-win. First, it changes the subject from not funding roads and transit, and job losses, to Democratic failure to take GAS PRICES seriously. If the pipeline passes with the Senate bill, the Republicans will brag about its pro-oil, pro-consumer victory. If the pipeline sinks the Senate bill, then the Republicans will say the whole issue preventing the transportation bill was the Democrats not willing to vote for pro-oil, pro-consumer “investment.”
littleguy commented on the diary post The War on Gregory Jaczko: Attempt at NRC Coup Evidence of Bigger Problems by Gregg Levine.
Taking pains to not defend Jaczko is petty and self-defeating. He is 1 x 4 trying to improve safety. The 4 are all nuke renaissance, and hear no evil. It is a fight to keep the last semblance of common sense at the NRC. No time to get prissy and half-hearted. Fight hard for Jaczko, [...]
very odd that you chose to attack Mr. J he is the only one of the five commissioners trying to tighten safety requirements; the rest are extreme shills for industry (including Obama’s appointment) Also odd that you personalized the attack that is the tactic of the right: to obscure the policy debate by saying Mr. [...]
littleguy commented on the blog post House Passes the “Even Obama Supported” Non-Jobs Jobs Act
The offset used by the House is the same one Max Baucus promised to use to save 600,000 transportation jobs.
littleguy commented on the blog post Obama Announces Regulatory Speed-Up for Infrastructure Projects
Obama wanted to cut transportation (like Mica bill) and move $$ into an infrastructure bank. This pays off the bankers, who now get a cut of all transportation spending. It also screws labor because prevailing wage law will never get into the infrastructure bank law.
The FAA fiasco, and unemployment/finance problems generally, appear to have chastened Obama for the moment, and he has suddenly committed to full transportation funding (publicly).
Still, Obama is downplaying the number of jobs at risk, to set the stage for agreeing to cuts insisted upon by Republicans.
The “expediting” is not needed. For a propaganda point, Obama is weakening NEPA. This is bad here, but a worse precedent. Once you start punching holes in environmental coverage, you invite more holes.
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