Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Another hint that the transportation powers that be want to get their hands on the Obama stimulus funds

Today's Statesman has an op-ed by Emil Henry, identified as assistant secretary of the Treasury from 2005 to 2007. The piece is called "Why the right can get behind an infrastructure program."

Several of his comments raise red flags. Why has this commentary come out now? Why is he advising some sort of new partnership between "conservatives" who may not have supported Obama and those who are now in a position to hand out the goodies of the stimulus funds?

Henry says:

"Party leaders are giving voice to historically underemphasized concerns such as the impact of airport, seaport and roadway congestion on productivity. . . . Barack Obama has indicated his intention to make infrastructure spending a central tenet of his economic plan and may even promote establishing a stand-alone agency in the form of the National Infrastructure Bank.

[Hope there will be sufficient safeguards against TxDOT looting this Bank.]

"By investing in the reduction of air, automotive and rail congestion . . . we will increase productivity and foster competitiveness.

[He offers no proof of this congestion that is decreasing productivity.]

"The nation also lacks high-speed rail."

[Again, no proof that the nation needs high-speed rail. Recent studies have shown that in most locations, high-speed rail is not the most efficient transportation method.]

"Investment in public transit, energy-efficient buildings, renewable energy and the systems required to implement roadway congestion pricing . . ."

[This means tolling your highways and charging you to enter a certain part of town, among other things.]

"Conservatives know that the private sector is better than the government at designing, building, operating and financing infrastructure." [Oh really. I don't think this is a given at all.] "This, combined with the magnitude of the spending required, means government will have to tap private capital and expertise. Conservatives can supply leadership in private-sector participation, encourage public-private partnerships and help ensure that central planning and prioritization are rooted in clinical cost-benefit analysis, not politics.

[Sure, there were no politics in the Gov. Perry, TxDOT, Cintra schemes, where consultants moved around revolving door style.]

When an opinion like Henry's appears, we can wonder if these thoughts occurred to the author just out of the blue. What prompted this column at this time? Is the author a disinterested expert wanting what is best for the country, or is he perhaps connected with some entity who would profit from stimulus funds being directed to the public-private partnerships advocated by TxDOT, such as its joint efforts with Cintra? Could this author be on some board or be acting as a consultant?

If this commentary is part of an organized effort to put the federal stimulus funds into the hands of those whose schemes were being thwarted by efforts by citizens at the state level and by current economic realities, we need to be aware of this and to let those in charge of the stimulus funds not to fall for this.

See the entire column at

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