The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee announced this week that”a total 405 Members of both parties submitted 6,868 HPP requests totaling $136.3 billion.” “HPP requests” are earmarks. That is curious when you consider:
a) Current federal transportation revenue is falling $10-15bn short of planned spending already this year. So they all have ideas for how to spend the money, but the idea of prioritizing to focus federal transportation spending given limited revenue, no one is talking about that.
b) Of course, an alternative is more revenue. But since transportation is such an obvious pork fest (see first sentence of this post), no one wants to pay higher federal taxes or fees for transportation.
c) Over the coming few years, total federal transportation revenue is projected to be an average of $32bn per year (2008 dollars). So the earmark requests submitted so far already add up to over four years of total revenue!
I confess to being a bit surprised. I have heard a lot of talk in DC about how the public has turned against earmarks, so members are going to be frugal about them, and that the need to radically reform the federal transportation program is so obvious and burning that this would not be a business as usual authorization.
But lo, the first thing out of the gate is not just business as usual, but the same ole crap squared!