WSJ: Road Blockhead

An editorial in today’s Wall Street Journal becomes the latest to jump on Congressmen Oberstar and DeFazio for their warning letter to state officials about public-private partnerships. They rightly point out the Congressman’s self interest in his opposition.

In reality, Mr. Oberstar’s main concern is protecting the political interests of himself and fellow Transportation Committee Members. All 75 of them — about one-sixth of the entire House. His committee is by far Congress’s most bloated, and its main order of business is shepherding through the lard-ridden highway bill every six years. Road financing got federalized back in the 1950s for the purposes of building the Interstate Highway System. Today that system is nearly complete, and Transportation has become little more than a public works committee, with the highway bill serving as a vehicle for Members to hand out checks to favored constituents. The last highway bill cost $295 billion, a third larger than its predecessor, and included 6,400 “special projects” — bike paths, museums, snowmobile trails, parking lots — that totaled $23 billion. These days, when the money does go toward actual road construction, it is often of the “Bridge to Nowhere” variety. Which is why states are finding public-private funding more and more attractive.

Public-private partnerships have become a proven tool to get new projects up and running — and as the WSJ points out, that’s what scares the Congressman. You can read more about it here and here and here and here. Also check out my colleague Ted Balaker take on Congressman DeFazio on CNBC here.

Geoffrey Segal is the director of privatization and government reform at Reason Foundation, a nonprofit think tank advancing free minds and free markets. He is also editor of Reason's Privatization Watch.

Segal recently served as an advisor to Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's Center for Efficient Government. In addition, his counsel has recently been sought out by Gov. Mark Sanford and Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, where he is working with the Government Efficiency and Financial Planning group inside the Office of Management and Budget. Segal is also an advisor to the Cost Cutting Caucus in the Virginia House of Delegates.

Segal is a highly skilled policy analyst with a strong, diversified background in policy research and project analysis focusing on public-private partnerships, competition, government efficiency, government spending and waste, transparency, accountability, and government performance.

Segal has worked closely with legislators in California, New York, Florida, Indiana, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Illinois, Oregon, Kentucky, Ohio, Washington D.C., Colorado, Minnesota, Maryland, Maine, North and South Carolina, Hawaii, Arizona, and Texas in efforts to reduce government spending, improve government performance, and enhance accountability in government programs.

Segal has testified to the United States Senate and numerous state legislatures and agencies. He has written dozens of articles for leading publications including Investor's Business Daily, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Indianapolis Star, Orange County Register, Los Angeles Daily News, and New York Sun. Segal is also a contributing editor to Budget & Tax News. A frequent guest on television and radio, he has appeared on Fox News Channel's "Your World with Neil Cavuto" as well as CNBC's "Closing Bell w/Maria Bartiromo" and "Power Lunch."

Segal earned a B.A. in Political Science at Arizona State University and a Master of Public Policy from Pepperdine University.