Politics

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 »

Infographic: State Property Tax Data

Credit Sesame has created an interactive map showing property tax rates for all 50 states. Based on data from the Tax Foundation, the graphic also shows property tax rates as a share of home value and as a share of median income of homeowners. It's important to note that property taxes can vary regionally within states, and property taxes are only one part of overall state and local tax burden.  read more »

Adjusting to Fiscal and Political Realities in Transportation Funding

As this is written, we do not know the exact level of funding the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will propose in its draft legislation, to be unveiled in the first week of July and marked up the following week. Nor do we know what level of funding the Senate Finance Committee will come up with. But we do know that both Houses will be obliged to propose far less funding than is contained in the current (FY 2010) surface transportation budget of $52 billion ($41 billion for highways, $11 billion for transit).  read more »

High Speed Rail Subsidies in Iowa: Nothing for Something

The Federal government is again offering money it does not have to entice a state (Iowa) to spend money that it does not have on something it does not need. The state of Iowa is being asked to provide funds to match federal funding for a so-called "high speed rail" line from Chicago to Iowa City. The new rail line would simply duplicate service that is already available.  read more »

Fwd: California's Bullet Train --- On the Road to Bankruptcy

For California’s high-speed rail boosters including their chief cheerleader, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, the month of May must have felt like a month from hell. First came a scathing report by California legislature’s fiscal watchdog, the non-partisan Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO), questioning the rail authority’s unrealistic cost estimates and its decision to build the first $5.5 billion segment in the sparsely populated Central Valley between Borden and Corcoran.  read more »

Understanding the Egyptian Protests: Headwaters of the Arab Spring

On Tuesday, January 25, 2011, the leaders of the Egyptian protest group, April 6 Youth Movement (A6Y), led hundreds of thousands of protesters chanting, “Bread, Freedom, Human Rights” into Cairo’s Tahrir Square. The events that followed completely surprised the economic elites gathering for the annual World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland. Few put much stock in the importance of the actions of young people in Egypt until the protests overturned that country’s entrenched power structure in a matter of weeks.  read more »