‘Right-foot’ Voters & the 2012 Presidential Election

Infrastructure Insight - A Look at the Democratic & Republican Parties’ Transportation Platforms

The presidential debates have concluded; the polls for the 2012 Election are nearing their end – thankfully; and after an early Tuesday in November, Americans will return to their daily lives hoping they made the correct decision.

While the turnout for the 2012 Election is expected to surpass the more than 132 million Americans who voted in the 2008 Election, the voter turnout will no doubt pale in comparison to the 211 million licensed drivers in the U.S.– of which nearly 207 million are of voting age.

But will the “right-foot” voters – the ones who press the accelerators of their vehicles to get to and from work, make it to appointments and travel for errands 1.1 billion times a day – according to Bureau of Transportation Statistics – be heard on November 6?

A better question yet might be: What are the Democratic and Republican parties’ platforms when it comes to transportation infrastructure?

Democratic DonkeyDemocratic Platform 

“(Long-term infrastructure) investments are critical for putting Americans back to work and strengthening America’s transportation system to grow our economy.”

The Democratic Platform calls for immediate transportation investment and creation of an infrastructure bank. The federal infrastructure bank, which was proposed to be funded with $10 billion but was voted down by the Senate during President Obama’s first term, would be used for projects thought to have the greatest return on investment.

The party’s platform continues its support of “livability” programs, stating, “We will continue to partner with local communities to support their sustainable developments, such as passenger rail, bicycle and pedestrian paths, and other projects to support livable cities.”

The Democratic Party suggests the financing of transportation infrastructure would be through the savings that will be accrued through the ending of wars inIraqandAfghanistan. In his 2012 State of the Union Address, President Obama said, “Take the money we’re no longer spending at war, use half of it to pay down our debt, and use the rest to do some nation-building right here at home.”

The word game: The number of times the Democratic Party’s platform used the following words in the context of the nation’s transportation infrastructure:
“infrastructure” 22 times;
“transportation” 4;
“highways” 1;
“roads” 6;
“bridges” 4

Republican ElephantRepublican Platform

“America’s infrastructure networks are critical for economic growth, international competitiveness and national security.”

The GOP Platform calls for a renewed federal-state partnership in improving the nation’s interstate infrastructure through the use of public-private partnerships. These partnerships “are urgently needed to maintain and modernize our country’s travel lifelines to facilitate economic growth and job creation.”

While the Republican Party doesn’t provide ways to address the pending Highway Trust Fund shortfalls, it opposes any funding mechanisms – such as vehicle-miles-traveled systems – that would involve governmental monitoring of every car and truck.

The Republican platform favors opening private competition to operate Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor, reforming National Environmental Policy Act, and ending highway fund diversions at the state level.

In an effort to rein in government spending and over-regulations, the party supports a three-step test for federal investment decisions: Is it within federal government’s constitutional role? Is it effective/absolutely necessary? Does it justify borrowing (especially foreign borrowing) to fund it?

The word game: The number of times the Republican Party’s platform used the following words in the context of the nation’s transportation infrastructure:
“infrastructure” 12 times;
“transportation” 5;
“highways” 0;
“roads” 6;
“bridges” 2

Unfortunately for the American motorists who combine to travel 4 trillion miles annually and the nation’s economy that is so dependent on the transportation system, neither political party has announced a long-term funding solution. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the Highway Trust Fund’s Highway and Mass Transit accounts – which fund and support the nation’s transportation programs – will be insolvent in FY 2015.

“Both parties have indicated that there should be a federal role in infrastructure investment,” said Joshua Schank, president of the nonprofitEnoCenterfor Transportation inWashington,D.C.“Neither of them have proposed a way to pay for it that’s realistic. A real strategy is either (to) raise the gas tax or cut spending, and neither party is divulging that.

To find out more about the major parties’ platforms, visit www.democrats.org/democratic-national-platform and www.gop.com/2012-republican-platform_home/


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