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Outgoing transportation secretary: America is one big pothole right now

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By Doug Powers  •  February 7, 2013 01:57 PM

**Written by Doug Powers

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President Obama, February 2009: “Because of this investment, nearly 400,000 men and women will go to work rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges, repairing our faulty dams and levees, bringing critical broadband connections to businesses and homes in nearly every community in America, upgrading mass transit, building high-speed rail lines that will improve travel and commerce throughout our nation.”
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Joe Biden, February 2009: “Starting today, our administration will be working day and night to provide more aid for the unemployed, create immediate jobs building our roads and our bridges, make long-term investments in a smarter energy grid, and so much more.”
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Nancy Pelosi, January 2009: “While there are many components to this economic recovery and jobs package. Make no mistake: this is not your grandfather’s public works bill.”
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Ray LaHood, June 2009: “Within the first five months, we have made $19 billion — roughly 40 percent of our recovery funds — available to all 50 states and three territories. We’ve made more money available to states more quickly than any of our routine programs. The highway portion alone is flowing at a rate of nearly $4 billion a month. The funds we’ve obligated so far have flipped the switch for more than 5,300 projects to repair/rebuild roads, bridges, airport facilities, transit districts and seaports. More than 1,900 of these projects are now under way. And as we reach the height of the summer construction season, we expect more work will begin.”
[…]
“One of the bright spots, we’ve discovered, is that many transportation projects, as the vice president said, are coming in under budget and ahead of schedule. And all around the countries, state DOTs are routinely receiving lower-than-expected bids for highway and airport construction projects. This allows states to stretch taxpayer dollar(s), plan additional projects, and put more people back to work.”

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President Obama, September 2010: “Now, let me tell you, another thing we’ve done is to make long-overdue investments in upgrading our outdated, our inefficient national infrastructure. We’re talking roads. We’re talking bridges. We’re talking dams, levees. But we’re also talking a smart electric grid that can bring clean energy to new areas. We’re talking about broadband Internet so that everybody is plugged in. We’re talking about high-speed rail lines required to compete in a 21st century economy.”
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The Hill, July 2012:

President Obama signed a $105 billion transportation bill on Friday, bringing to an end a three-year fight over road and transit spending.
[…]
“First of all, this bill will keep thousands of construction workers on the job rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure,” Obama said in a quick speech delivered less than an hour after he landed at Andrews Air Force base in suburban Washington.

Wow, that’s a lot of infrastructure promise. Where do things stand now?

Ray LaHood, February 2013:

Outgoing Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood lamented the amount of infrastructure spending that was approved by Congress during his tenure at the Department of Transportation (DOT) on Wednesday.

“America is one big pothole right now,” LaHood said in an interview on “The Diane Rehm Show” on National Public Radio.

“At one time … we were the leader in infrastructure,” LaHood continued. “We built the interstate system. It’s the best road system in the world, and we’re proud of it. But we’re falling way behind other countries, because we have not made the investments.”

“America is one big pothole right now.” Unfortunately it’s too late for the administration to add that to their repertoire of campaign slogans.

Tom Blumer at Newsbusters:

The administration spent 2009 and 2010 bragging about how infrastructure improvements were bringing the nation back from the eeeeevil Bush recession. The problem was, first, that much of the funding went to projects already on the books; in other words, federal money replaced state and local money. Second, much of the stimulus plan money was spent on nonsense like failed “green energy” projects which had nothing to do with improving infrastructure.

Now the administration acts as if little has ever been done (largely true, and their fault), and wants us to believe that another round of supposed infrastructure spending will be properly managed. Sure it will.

Maybe we could temporarily bridge the potholes with unused Solyndra solar panels.

(h/t Connie Hair)

**Written by Doug Powers

Twitter @ThePowersThatBe

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