The Precarious State of the Highway Trust Fund

On November 18, President Obama signed into law a bundle of appropriation bills for FY 2012  including appropriations  for the U.S. Department of Transportation. The measure had been passed earlier in the House by a vote of 298-121 and in  the Senate by a vote of 70-30.   read more »

All in the Family, 2011

We overheard this phone conversation recently between tea party activist Bill Francis and his 19-year-old daughter and Wall Street occupier Serena: 

Bill:  I understand why you’re protesting but I think you’re missing the point.

Serena:  What’s that?

Bill:  You’re mad at rich people and upset that you can’t get a job.

Serena:  True.

Bill: And you think that by camping out on the street you’ll get attention?  read more »

Manhattan Moment: Two distinct groups make up 'Occupy' protesters

Strange to say, but there may be something valuable going on among some of the Occupy Wall Street protesters.

Until now, two narratives have defined both the press coverage and public discussion of the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators camped out in lower Manhattan's Zuccotti Park.

The first depicts a collection of buffoonish, semiliterate juveniles engaged in a seeming left-wing version of a college prank. There is, to be sure, something to this story.  read more »

The Chicago Machine’s Favorite After School Charity

One of the great scams of modern political life is the charitable contributions of tax-exempt foundations associated with politicians.  A perfect illustration is one charity associated with former Chicago Mayor Daley which has received some attention.  read more »


Obama's New $50 Billion Infrastructure Stimulus --- Old Wine in New Bottles

President Obama's new $50 billion infrastructure initiative --- part of his $447 billion American Jobs Act (AJA)---offered no surprises. It's almost an exact replica of his FY 2012 budget request which included a sum of $50 billion for transportation to "jump start" a proposed $556 billion six-year surface transportation reauthorization.  read more »

Infrastructure Bank: Losing Favor with the White House?

Eighteen months ago, on January 20, 2010, a group of influential politicians, accompanied by a large coterie of representatives of the Washington transportation community, gathered at the Capitol to urge Congress and the Obama Administration to create a "National Infrastructure Bank" to help finance infrastructure investments. The speakers included all the well-known advocates of the Bank: Pennsylvania’s Governor Ed Rendell, Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT), Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), author of an Infrastructure Bank bill (H.R.  read more »

Iowa Getting Off Bus Speed Rail?

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad has refused to pay $15,000 in annual dues to the Midwest High-Speed Rail Association. This comes after the state legislature declined to fund intercity rail programs in the 2012 budget.  read more »

Sizing Up Texas’ Job Growth Under Rick Perry

Now that Texas Gov. Rick Perry is officially in the running for the Republican presidential nomination, journalists and econ bloggers from almost every national news outlet have examined the Texas’ economy in excruciating detail. The fact that Texas has produced nearly 40% of all new jobs in the US since 2009 has been regurgitated over and over again, and the state’s remarkable population spike has repeatedly been cited as a reason for the big employment growth.  read more »

Cities Have Outgrown Their Role as Mere Creatures of the Provinces

The Martin Prosperity Institute recently released the map below, which compares the GDP of several US metropolitan areas to the size of national economies. For instance, the Boston-Cambridge-Quincy metropolitan statistical area (MSA) has a GDP of $311.3 billion dollars. If it were a country, it would be the 40th biggest national economy on earth, ahead of countries such as Denmark ($310.1) and Greece ($303.4).  read more »

Another Congressional Cut for High Speed Rail

July 15: Today there was another indication that the newly constituted House of Representatives understands the “litmus test” imperative of zeroing out high speed rail appropriations, in light of potentially required cuts in essential programs like Medicare, Social Security and others. $1 billion was switched to Midwest flood relief in an approval today of the Energy and Water Appropriations bill for the 2012 budget.  read more »