Maybe we were wrong. Maybe 2012 will be different, President Obama will stand up to Congress, maybe he will even do the unthinkable and buck three decades of political trends, turning cities into a campaign issues once again (ever since Reagan won without taking a single major city, both parties have largely ignored urban issues).
That is at least the message coming out of the White House, in the face of the despised-on-all-sides House transportation bill, a program created by Reagan no less. On Tuesday (in response to The Observer‘s pending article, perhaps?), the administration released a statement declaring the president would veto the transit bill if it reached his desk.
The statement outlines a number of reasons for denying the bill, including a shout out to cities, which is highlighted below.
The Administration has serious concerns with provisions in the bill that would make America’s roads, rails, and transit systems less safe, reduce the transportation options available to America’s traveling public, short circuit local decision-making, and turn back the clock on environmental and labor protections.
H.R. 7 eliminates programs that ensure the Nation’s metropolitan areas have sufficient resources to provide multiple transportation options to help reduce congestion. H.R. 7 also eliminates a thirty-year legacy of dedicated transit funding from the Highway Trust Fund. The bill allocates Federal funding for transit in a manner that undermines local decision making regarding the operation of local transit systems. This bill also reduces authorized funding levels for Amtrak and loosens the requirements on loan programs, putting taxpayer dollars at risk. In addition, the bill inappropriately targets funding towards systems that carry only a small number of the Nation’s bus passengers. Finally, while the Administration appreciates that the bill does not contain earmarks, H.R. 7 eliminates funding for a number of discretionary grant programs, missing an opportunity to promote competition and innovation.
As we previously wrote, competition and innovation are a big part of this administration’s urban strategy. Congress had better not mess with that.