published Sunday, February 19th, 2012

Boehner's outrageous bill

House Speaker John Boehner normally has a self-assured air as he goes about his work. He speaks loudly and often to promote his own and his party's agenda, clearly expecting his views to carry the day. Some of the time he seems to get away with the act. But not always. Last week, the veteran Ohio legislator was forced to delay action on his $260-billion transportation bill. So many of his erstwhile GOP allies found certain provisions of the bill so unpalatable that Boehner had to pull it off the table.

There is ample reason for such outrage. Boehner's bill is flawed in so many ways that no Democrat was expected to vote for it, and a sizable number of Republicans publicly rejected it. Ray LaHood, a Republican who serves as transportation secretary, described it as the "worst transportation bill" he'd seen in more than three decades of public life. LaHood didn't go far enough. Boehner's bill is likely the worst transportation bill ever. It's hard to disagree with the latter assessment.

If approved, the bill would terminate a 30-year agreement that guarantees mass transit programs a reasonable share of the fuel taxes and user fees paid into the highway trust fund. It would also expand oil and drilling along the East, West and Florida Gulf Coasts and in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The legislation also would effectively end useful environmental reviews of proposed road and highway projects. The bill should be rejected.

The mass transit proposal is especially egregious. In many areas, mass transit is an efficient, effective and environmentally sound way to move people from one point to another in a manner that removes vehicles and the pollutants they spew from the roads. That's good for the air, for the economy and for people everywhere, especially in large urban areas. Ronald Reagan, a Republican president with sound conservative credentials, certainly thought so. He was responsible for the agreement to share fuel taxes with mass transit programs that Boehner seeks to end.

The desire to open more areas to drilling makes no sense. Even if vast new fields are discovered, benefits are unlikely to accrue. Boehner says revenues from increased drilling will ease budget woes and that additional supplies will lower prices. Not so. Drilling might increase revenues a bit but certainly not enough to impact the budget. Any increase in oil and gas supplies would not be available to consumers for years. Moreover, the ecological and environmental damage could be extensive, and more rapid consumption would needlessly reduce supplies for our future generations.

Boehner's desire to end environmental reviews of road projects would halt a proven program that protects the public. Doing so most likely would allow a return to the time when there were few controls on how, when and where roads were built. Neither the nation nor the environment needs that.

It doesn't need Boehner's proposed legislation either. Boehner implies that his bill has been shelved for technical reasons, That's poppycock. It's off the table because it is such an abomination that he failed to elicit support for passage.

Word is that Boehner will bring the bill back for a vote after a House recess. If he succeeds, the legislation should be defeated -- and replaced by a bill that properly and fairly addresses U.S. transportation needs.

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fairmon said...

The highway is fund is almost depleted. Like many other trust funds where money is spent for reasons other than the purpose for which the fund was created. Mass transit is important and needed but there is no reason to use the highway trust fund to supplement the development.

The same argument against increased drilling with increased lease and royalties revenue are the reasons we are no closer to energy independence that when Carter established the department of energy for the purpose of achieving energy independence.

This is a "me to" article is from the democrats party line and automatic objection to anything the other proposes. Republicans just as often object to democrat proposals such as expiration of the Bush tax rates for the wealthy only.

February 19, 2012 at 12:22 a.m.

Most Democrat proposals are rooted in waste and growing government. Eliminating the Bush tax rates will have no affect because of Obama's determination to spend us into ruin. Democrat never propose anything that will reduce the size of government and eliminate government waste.

February 19, 2012 at 12:19 p.m.
joneses said...

I am thankful we have a Speaker of the House that reads a bill before he votes on it rather than voting for the bill so he can see what is in it like Pelosi did.

February 19, 2012 at 2:15 p.m.
Legend said...

Hidden behind the BP oil spill on the Gulf Coast lie another oil spill in Yellstone National Park. Where a pipeline ruptured spilling barrels of oil into Montana's tourist attraction which led to a mass evacuation. They haven't yet gotten that oil spill under control either. But the repubs still want to DRILL BABY DRILL!

@Boehner's Bad Bill: >It would also expand oil and drilling along the East, West and Florida Gulf Coasts and in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The legislation also would effectively end useful environmental reviews of proposed road and highway projects

February 19, 2012 at 5:01 p.m.
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