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 Work that needs doing, workers ready to do it 
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Modmin Dude
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Post Work that needs doing, workers ready to do it
DOT wrote:
October 14, 2011
Work that needs doing, workers ready to do it

I’d like to start today's blog post with the words of a newsmaker from another time:

Pres Reagan wrote:
One of America’s great material blessings is the outstanding network of roads and highways that spreads across this vast continent. Freedom of travel and the romance of the road are vital parts of our heritage. They also form a vital commercial artery unequaled anywhere else in the world.

But let's face it: Time and wear have taken their toll. So, I'm asking the Congress to approve a new highway program. It will stimulate 170,000 jobs, not in make-work projects but in real, worthwhile work in the hard-hit construction industries, and an additional 150,000 jobs in related industries.

We will be preserving for future generations of Americans a highway system that has long been the envy of the world.


Those are the words of President Ronald Reagan on November 27, 1982, just 40 days before he signed the Surface Transportation Assistance Act into law. Reagan’s transportation jobs bill passed a Congress controlled by an opposition party that, only weeks before, had picked up 27 seats in the 1982 midterm elections.

A lot has changed here in Washington over the past 29 years. But nothing’s changed more than the evolution of a culture in which elected officials today are rewarded for intransigence.

When then-President-elect Obama, a Democrat, asked me, a lifelong Republican, to serve as Transportation Secretary, he asked me to help solve the American peoples’ problems--to stand up for compromise and cooperation in those areas where Democrats and Republicans have almost always agreed. And, as President Reagan and his opposition Congress showed, there’s no better example of a traditionally bipartisan issue than transportation.

I've said many times, there’s no such thing as a Democratic road or a Republican bridge. And when those roads and bridges are in danger of falling down, there’s no such thing as a Democratic or Republican job repairing them. That's why I've been barnstorming the country over the past few weeks to discuss the American Jobs Act.

Construction workers in St. Paul and businesspeople in Kansas City alike agree that rebuilding American infrastructure is a great way to make needed transportation improvements and put Americans back to work. The AFL-CIO and the US Chamber of Commerce agree. And for years and years, Democratic and Republican legislators in Congress have agreed--until now.

For too many, compromise has become a dirty word – and cooperation an unforgivable sin. When the only goal in Congress is preventing the other side from achieving anything, the American people surely lose.

The American people are getting tired of it. Yesterday, after a discussion about jobs at the National Press Club, one of the first questions I was asked was, "What will it take to break this partisan gridlock?"

Of course, the answer is that the American public will have to hold the people they elect accountable for getting things done. I hope we can take action to get America back to work and our economy back on track well before an election that is still 13 months away. Because at a time when we desperately need tried and true policy prescriptions--bipartisan remedies that have a documented track-record of improving our economic well-being, especially as it comes to jobs and transportation--we can't get them.

Whether by road, rail or air, we’re quickly reaching or exceeding capacity while putting off needed upgrades. And--make no mistake--we all pay the price of our inaction in the global marketplace. As recently as 2005, the World Economic Forum ranked America’s infrastructure the best in the world. Today? We aren’t even in the top ten.

That infrastructure belongs to all of us. It’s more than the way we get from one place to another; it’s the way we lead our lives and pursue our dreams. Economists and analysts of every political persuasion have told us that the American Jobs Act will boost the economy and spur hiring. Unlikely allies like state governors from both parties are saying that jobs on vital projects shouldn’t be casualties of partisan warfare.

I couldn't agree more. President Obama couldn't agree more. We've got work to do, and we've got workers ready to do it. We're ready to move some dirt. All we need to do is move Congress.

http://fastlane.dot.gov/2011/10/jobs-ta ... -club.html

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October 14th, 2011, 1:38 pm
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Post Re: Work that needs doing, workers ready to do it
Wasn't the infastructure supposed to be fixed with the nearly $1 Trillion Stimulus Bill two years ago? That's right, Obama said the shovel ready jobs weren't quite as shovel ready as he expected. So now, we're supposed to believe him when he wants to spend another half trillion dollars on more shovel ready projects? Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. No dice.

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October 14th, 2011, 10:42 pm
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Post Re: Work that needs doing, workers ready to do it
Mark Cuban had a great blog post about infrastructure spending not being stimulus:

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With the possible exception of the enhancement and building of schools, the only infrastructure investment that makes sense is where COMMERCE THAT WAS NOT PREVIOUSLY ABLE IS NOW ENABLED BY NEW INFRASTRUCTURE.

The problem in the USA is that those opportunities are few and far between. We have been there and done that. The BIGGER PROBLEM WITH INFRASTRUCTURE is that in the name of creating jobs we actually inhibit commerce and possibly cost jobs. How ? When we rebuild or expand roads as a way of creating jobs, what happens ? We shut down or reduce the traffic on the roads to be rebuilt. The net effect is that during the construction period we CREATE PROBLEMS rather than solve them. We slow down commutes. Which costs people valuable time (and yes time is still money), wastes gas/oil/energy as we sit in traffic and forces traffic to streets not designed for the additional traffic. Not Good. The same could be said with building /bridge remodels or updates and other projects. We all want to see the potholes in our streets filled, but now is not the time to do it, and federal funding is not the way to pay for it.

The bottom line is that we have to understand the difference between Maintenance and Infrastructure. Infrastructure creates opportunity where there was none. Maintenance gets things back to where they were. You INVEST in infrastructure when you can see a return. You SPEND money on maintenance when you not only have the available funds to do so, but also the ability to withstand the downtime and negative productivity impact that comes with the impact of the maintenance work. Yes there are times when you need maintenance to return to a steady business state (ie your computer is broken or safety is an issue with a bridge), but again those have an obvious return.


If the government wants to spend money on infrastructure that would boost the economy: build an ultra high speed fiber-optic internet connection throughout the country.


October 15th, 2011, 10:24 am
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Modmin Dude
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Post Re: Work that needs doing, workers ready to do it
How do you propose we resolve our current infrastructure problems? There are several roads and bridges nationwide that are in disrepair. Do we just let them continue to erode and perhaps cause serious accidents like the one in Minneapolis a few years back? or do we try to systematically repair them and at the same time create some jobs, which in turn would help the economy?
I agree that Obama Admin did a crappy job implementing their "Shovel ready projects" BS, but that doesn't mean that if the planning and implementation were done correctly it wouldn't help. Or do you think this is something that isn't important right now and could/should wait until someone else in in the Oval Office?

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October 15th, 2011, 3:39 pm
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Post Re: Work that needs doing, workers ready to do it
Simple. Repeal the Davis–Bacon Act and ensure that the federal gas excise taxes are distributed to the states, thus allowing them to determine where the infrastructure improvements are needed instead of the federal bureaucracy.

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October 16th, 2011, 2:30 am
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Post Re: Work that needs doing, workers ready to do it
The difference with Obama's spending, and Regan's spending, is that Obama wants to hand out trillions to over-paid union workers and reward his contributors/chronies. It's ridiculous. I have no problem with repaving roads, or rebuilding bridges, but 1) we've already spent too much money, and 2) give the jobs to the best contractors available, not just union contractors.


October 17th, 2011, 4:27 pm
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Post Re: Work that needs doing, workers ready to do it
Wjb, that's what I was referring to when I said to repeal the Davis–Bacon Act. It basically mandates that the government pay union wages for all construction projects. It doesn't state that union labor must be used, but the conditions imposed by it usually ensures that the vast majority of the work will go to unions.

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October 19th, 2011, 2:01 pm
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