If it’s not one thing, it’s another…that keeps transportation infrastructure funding down the priority list for Congress. A few years ago, it was the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Then it was Obamacare and health care reform. And today, and in the weeks and months ahead, all eyes (and mouths) will be on immigration reform, following the executive order President Obama signed last week.
And all the while, our roads, bridges, and ports continue to decay.
60 Minutes aired a segment last night on this problem, perfectly titled, “Falling Apart: America’s Neglected Infrastructure” (watch video below or here). For those of us that follow the logistics industry closely, the statistics and issues raised in the segment are not new to us, but educating the general public is important nonetheless because, at the end of the day, we all have to be willing to pay, whether it’s higher gas taxes or some other funding mechanism, to fix this problem. (For related commentary, see my post from February 2014, Enough Talk: Time to Fix Transportation Infrastructure Funding).
Unfortunately, history has proven that as dire as this problem is to public safety and economic growth, it alway seems to get elbowed out of the spotlight by other issues, and while politicians talk a good talk, the only action they take is short term and temporary. The Highway Trust Fund is set to run out of money again in May 2015, and I’m betting the new Congress will do what all the others have done to date: kick the can further down the road on developing a long-term funding solution.
And as this excerpt from the 60 Minutes report illustrates, the only time politicians want to talk about this problem is when they’re forced to, which is every time the Highway Trust Fund is on the brink of insolvency, an emergency they continuously create.
But [transportation infrastructure funding] was not heard during the midterm elections where there was virtually no public debate on infrastructure and that has barely changed in the weeks that have followed [emphasis mine]. We wanted to talk to Pennsylvania Congressman Bill Shuster, the chairman of the House Transportation Committee and made numerous requests over the last five months for an on-camera interview. All of them were declined. We did the same with Michigan Congressman Dave Camp, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, which has to come up with the money to fund transportation projects; we met with the same result.
The 60 Minutes video has received 1.5K Facebook “likes” as of this morning. Sounds encouraging, until you compare it to the 15K Facebook “likes” the Saturday Night Live skit on immigration reform, which also aired this weekend, has received — and the media attention that video is getting, including the Washington Post spending time and resources to fact check a satirical skit.
If it’s not one thing, it’s another that keeps transportation infrastructure funding at the bottom of the priority list.
Which video will you share with your social media followers? Which one will get the most comments and attention? Post a comment and share your perspective!