So Boxer’s version of the transport bill passed in the Senate, but I can’t imagine it passing the House, unless all the whackadoodles in the House suddenly come down with a sudden case of reasonableness. Sorry, this is supposed to be a scholarly blog with measured language, but I am at the point of calling ’em like I see ’em, and the Boxer’s bill rather rigorously ignores all the issues that the House Repbulicans are hoping to force into policy for the next five years, but with one notable exception: earmarks.
We got it, already. Everybody hates everybody else’s pork. However, it’s hard for me to understand why, exactly, the big donor states like California, Texas, Ohio, and New York would ever support another federal tax increase if earmarks are off the table.
This is not to say that earmarks shouldn’t be taken off the table. It’s just that, without earmarks, the donor states have even more reason to join anti-tax coalitions at the Federal level. Failure to update the federal gas tax is one of the reasons why we are dealing with a $12 billion gap between revenues and what people want to spend.
Anyhoodily, I’m assuming people have been paying attention long enough to understand why the Senate Bill use earmarking as a sacrificial lamb: they are widely perceived to be wasteful, and in so doing, appear to be a bit of an olive branch to the House Republicans who might be tempted to back off of their hard line position on a number of other issues to take the political victory surrounding earmarks.
To be clear, the Senate Bill is a hot mess even while Democrats are rejoicing in its passage in the senate. By scooping more money out of the general fund to cover the deficit in spending, it doesn’t solve the major problems dividing the parties, nor does it address the long-term sustainability of the fund. It’s an 18-month bill, which amounts to another damn extension for all practical purposes.
I don’t see this bill passing in the House except as an extension, which everybody wants. Both sides are holding out hope that they will capture control of Congress, and then there will be real leverage.