This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.

Can a divided Congress tackle infrastructure, fuel taxes and safety issues?

BY JOHN D. SCHULZ Contributing Writer

Presidential second terms are the po-

litical equivalent of golf’s beloved Mulligan. It can be a do-over, a chance to get things right and perhaps an opportunity at creat- ing a president’s legacy. Ronald Reagan used his second term to

present himself as the Great Communica- tor and push the country toward a leaner federal government. Bill Clinton used his to create a more business friendly environ- ment resulting in a federal government surplus. What Barack Obama will do with his

final four years in office is unknown. But the president’s Electoral College landslide victory does not hide a divided Congress as both parties work to avert a pending fiscal nightmare scenario. A lot depends on how seriously Demo-

SPRING Q1 2013

crats and Republicans can utter the word “compromise” in their day-to-day dealings. While Democrats slightly increased their control of the Senate, the House remains solidly in Republican hands.When the 113th Congress convenes in January, both parties will have a brief window to actually govern the country after what seems like four years of continuous partisan bickering. So what could transportation see com- ing out of a second Obama administration?

Legislative possibilities Actually there is some optimism in

trucking circles that the next four years could bring major improvements in infra- structure. Nearly everyone agrees improve- ments are necessary; the disagreement comes on how to pay for them. The federal fuel tax has been un-


changed since 1993, Bill Clinton’s first year in office. Trucking industry officials are nearly unanimous in favoring the fuel tax as the most efficient, fairest way to shore up the Highway Trust Fund. That fund takes in about $36 billion

a year. But the federal government spends about $52 billion a year on roads, bridges and mass transit. The Highway Trust Fund (HTF) is expected to be exhausted some- time in 2014, just as it has for nearly a de- cade. And just as it has for nearly a decade, the HTF will be bailed out by a transfer of revenue from the general fund. Transport experts say that spend-

ing gulf will only expand as Americans gravitate to more efficient vehicles. Use of electric vehicles sidesteps the federal fuel tax entirely. There are now hard signals that even

 15

Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36