Monday, February 27, 2012

"Socialist" Chamber of Commerce Pressures Republicans Over Stalled Transportation Bill

Question: if you run a business that would be out of business if it didn't get government contracts, are you really a business person or just another "parasitic leech" on the body politic? I ask the question because the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, that organization of alleged defenders of American capitalism, is pulling out all the stops in order to force reluctant Republican Congresscitters to pass a quarter-trillion dollar "socialist" infrastructure boondoggle. Here is Bloomberg with the details:
Business groups led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are spending more than $500,000 on advertising to press Republican lawmakers, on recess this week, to back a stalled transportation spending bill.

The Chamber, the largest business lobby, and other organizations are running ads this week in the districts of some Republican holdouts while members of Congress are home. House Speaker John Boehner last week delayed a vote on a five-year $260 billion bill, which many members of his party opposed.

“This is an end run around conservative organizations who are opposed to the bill, by going to the constituents of these lawmakers directly and making an appeal that it will help the infrastructure in their district,” Ron Bonjean, a Republican political strategist who isn’t involved in the effort, said in a phone interview. Bonjean is a partner in Singer Bonjean Strategies, a Washington-based public affairs firm.
Yep--same old story, one man's "socialism" is another man's pork barrel project. What's even more astonishing about this initiative is that it is specifically targeting the Tea Party:
While the ads are running, coalition representatives are holding media events with local chambers of commerce and business groups “to heighten the voice of the business community and express our desire to see a surface transportation bill,” Maldonado said by phone.

Those events are scheduled for Dayton, Cincinnati and Columbus, Ohio; Louisville and Fort Mitchell, Kentucky; Houma, Louisiana; Mobile, Alabama; Atlanta; Topeka, Kansas; Omaha, Nebraska; Boise, Idaho; High Point, North Carolina; and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Maldonado said. They are scheduled through Feb. 24.

“They’re going after bastions of the Tea Party,” John Feehery, a Republican strategist, said by phone, referring to the movement that favors less regulation and government spending.

“They’re trying to win the intellectual argument that you need to have investment in infrastructure,” said Feehery, president of Quinn Gillespie Communications in Washington.
And here is where the rhetorical question I wrote at the top of this article comes in:
“Our message on these events is ‘here’s how much construction unemployment has declined in this metro area and one of the ways you can help do something about that is passing a surface transportation bill’,” Turmail said.

The American Road and Transportation Builders Association, which is also part of the Chamber-led coalition, is pushing its members to meet with their elected representatives or senior staff to press the case to move forward, group president Pete Ruane said by phone. ARTBA is the Washington-based group for transportation design and construction firms such as Caterpillar Inc. (CAT) and Martin Marietta Materials Inc. (MLM)

In six months, member companies may have to fire “thousands and thousands of people” if Congress fails to act, Ruane said. “That’s something I don’t think any of these people want in their districts.”
The official TDS position is that the only transportation projects which should be funded in the twilight of the cheap oil era are those for mass transit. But since most of this hideous abomination of a bill is to continuing building and repairing highways, it deserves to go down in flames.

There seems to be little doubt, however, that the Chamber of Commerce's commercial campaign will succeed. So, the next time you hear anyone from the Chamber of Commerce, or any Republican "leader" who votes for this colossal waste of borrowed taxpayer funds get up and attack Obama for being a "socialist," you will know that it is yet another example of the pot calling the kettle (ahem) black.

Just par for the course in this Spoiled Rotten Nation.

Bonus: One of the best highway songs ever recorded


  1. "...the only transportation projects which should be funded in the twilight of the cheap oil era are those for mass transit."
    I was going to argue with that but...I can't...

  2. Makes me glad I have access to horses.

  3. Bill I wish you would "bone-up" on were I live -- Honolulu's -- 5.7 billion and counting planned rail project. We really cannot build anymore highways here so instead they are going to build a elevated-fixed monorail that will not take a single car off the road. So why build it? To provide for future population-growth in the most isolated major urban-center on the planet! You know the real tragedy is that O'ahu should be a bicyclist, pedestrian paradise and it is not. As a rule I agree with you about mass transit but, as they say the devil is always in the details. If the powers that be can come up with dumb, useless bad mass transit projects, that will simply line their pockets, do not put it past them. As we say in Hawai'i nei --

    A hui hou kakou, malama pono.

    1. lucas - sounds like the monorail project from that old classic Simpsons episode. You're probably right that most mass transit projects would end up being pork barrel boondoggles instead of helping to mitigate peak oil.