Monday, September 6, 2010

Obama's Infrastructure Bank A Good Idea; On The Right (Correct) Track

Getting the pork out of highway-building is probably impossible, given its centerpiece in the economy - - a point reiterated in the President's address in Milwaukee today - - but a rationalized process that includes rail and other transportation projects funded by an infrastructure bank is a good organizational change.

I loved the administration's commitment in his Labor Day speech to a national passenger rail system; jobs and growth for Milwaukee will be and already are the local outcomes - - white-collar as well as construction and equipment assembly- - and that point needs to be emphasized throughout the campaign.

If Walker or Neumann campaign against rail, that needs to be framed for what it is - - opposition to good jobs and meaningful growth in Milwaukee and Wisconsin - - including rail-induced development, worker paychecks, business services, and tax-base - - that would be lost to neighboring states if the high-speed train, an Amtrak upgrade, is blocked between Chicago and Madison.

Chicago is going to be hub for a regional train network that will offer connections for medium-length travel, on wi-fi equipped cars, that will be a boon to business and vacation travelers.

Not everyone has car, or wants to drive, for example, from Milwaukee to St. Paul, or St. Louis to Madison, with intermediate stops, airline cancellations or various issues or stresses with highway driving over several hundred miles or more.

Obama's plan will keep road-building at a very high pace, so the highway lobby and its allies in both parties, in all legislators, have nothing to fear from the train alternative getting some funding.

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