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With the fiscal cliff, Israel's escalating war with Gaza, and looming battles over immigration reform, transportation policy may not be on the top of everybody's minds. But one of my friends, a prospective urban planner, has convinced me that we need to change the way we structure the transportation budget, and that by doing so we can address a number of important problems facing the country, including energy dependency, the economy, and the budget. Click over the fold to see how.

On his whitehouse.gov petition, my friend outlines how we need to change the way we invest in transportation. Specifically, he believes we need to reduce our spending towards unnecessary highway expansion, and instead boost aid to local transit services. As he puts it, he seeks to address

the heavy political opposition and skepticism from our leaders with regards to any form of mass-transit that promotes more sustainable communities. In reality, this petition could be filed under budget (sprawl is inherently more expensive for government), job creation/innovation (dense cities, which mass-transit caters to, have long been innovation hotbeds due to their melting pot nature), trade (less dependence on highways for commuters frees them up for other uses), defense/climate change (public transit generally reduces dependence on foreign oil, especially when electric) as well as many of the other categories listed.

We can no longer afford the many consequences of relying on outdated ideas about urban/regional planning from when that discussion was in it's infancy.

Currently, the budget for the Department of Transporation includes more than $40 billion towards the Federal Highway Administration (FHA), as opposed to the Federal Transit Administration, which receives less than $11 billion. President Obama’s budget does not change this significantly. In fact, his proposal increases the FHA budget by over $1 billion, as opposed to a mere $200 million increase for the FTA.

As I noted, my friend who started this petition is a prospective urban planner. As he notes, investing more in local transit will benefit cities, who have been hurt by the recession more than rural areas.

I’ve strongly supported aspects of President Obama’s Transportation policy, especially the record investments in high-speed rail and clean cars. However, I think this is one aspect of his policy that needs to be examined.

Please sign this petition to review transportation policy.

As I said, this isn't exactly an issue progressives have unanimous opinions on. So if you disagree, don't be afraid to say so in the comments.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Simplify

    Republicans are far more socialist than Democrats. Just because they want to redistribute the wealth upwards does not make it any better.

    by MrAnon on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 07:44:17 PM PST

  •  We should take a slice out of the defense budget (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MrAnon

    I'm thinking $100 billion.  Obama's baby step of $8B a couple of years ago was pathetic.  There are several corridors where it makes sense, and we need to get away from these 20 year plus project lengths.  I'm watched so many NASA projects die or grow 10X in cost from the slow dribble of multi-year funding.  Here in Calfornia we have slow-pedaled our high-speed rail project so long that the public has given into the naysayers and no longer supports this important project; we don't have room for another  several million cars on our roads, and no matter how much tele-commuting grows our transportation system needs help.  We frankly need a $40B pledge from DC to keep this project alive. Besides, DoD spending creates fewer jobs than any other gov't expenditure, and it's crazy profit margins are just another way the 1% transfers the wealth of working Americans to themselves from the US Treasury.

    A rising tide lifts all yachts. But rowboats get swamped.

    by oddmike on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 08:37:16 PM PST

    •  Thanks (0+ / 0-)

      You make great points, especially about the slow pace of infrastructure development in the United States. I also strongly agree that the Defense budget needs to be cut significantly.

      Republicans are far more socialist than Democrats. Just because they want to redistribute the wealth upwards does not make it any better.

      by MrAnon on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 09:15:06 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I don't neccesarily agree.. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MrAnon, erush1345

    ...or disagree. I guess I'm a bit neutral based on the argument proffered. As far as the petition goes..I'm starting to get a bad feeling everytime I see a whitehouse.gov petition. I just think it's getting out of hand. Whatever happened to writing your congressperson? No offense to you or your diary just putting forth an opinion.

    "Good to be here, good to be anywhere."~Keith Richards

    by bradreiman on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 08:37:55 PM PST

    •  Heh (0+ / 0-)

      I can see why people right now aren't too happy with the petition system.

      I take no offense, and I welcome your comment. My friend and I are currently drafting letters to our Senators and Congresspeople, but we thought it would be nice if President Obama was aware of this (the petition system has been effective so far at getting responses on more "minor" issues like this).

      Republicans are far more socialist than Democrats. Just because they want to redistribute the wealth upwards does not make it any better.

      by MrAnon on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 08:48:25 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Four Signatures on the Petition (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        MrAnon

        Counting mine. Yippee!

        It's NEVER a good time to argue for a transportation policy because there are ALWAYS more urgent matters. Meanwhile, people in rural areas have to either stay home or get the old jalopy on the road if they want to go anywhere.

  •  This is MY issue... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MrAnon

    end obesity, unemployment and poverty by providing decent public transportation for all.  Hang up the car keys! Do you know what a car COSTS?

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