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Bill White

The Leonard Lopate Show

Fiscal Policy and the Federal Debt

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Bill White, who served as mayor of Houston from 2003 to 2009 and was deputy secretary of energy in the Clinton administration, tells the story of federal leaders who imposed clear limits on the use of federal debt for nearly two centuries until 2001, when elected officials broke the traditional link between federal tax and spending policies. For the first time in history, the federal government cut taxes during war, funded permanent new programs entirely with debt, and became dependent on foreign creditors. In America’s Fiscal Constitution: Its Triumph and Collapse, White outlines practical lessons learned from the nation's five previous spikes in debt.

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Transportation Nation

The Party of Roads?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

(Matt Dellinger, Transportation Nation) You won’t find a clearer policy statement than the domain name for NoTrain.com. The web site was created on behalf of Scott Walker, the republican gubernatorial candidate in Wisconsin, who in a new campaign spot takes a stand against a proposed Madison-to-Milwaukee rail line. Rather than build the $810 million dollar federally-funded “boondoggle,” Walker says, he’d like to “fix Wisconsin’s crumbling roads and bridges.” He’s worried for the “hard-working families who are going to pick up the tab” for a train they may never ride.

The undercurrents are of states rights and fiscal responsibility. The television ad and the open letter that appear on the web site are directed not so much against Walker’s Democratic opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett (who supports the rail plan), but against President Barack Obama, who won the state of Wisconsin two years ago by nearly fourteen percent.

Walker isn’t the only Republican gubernatorial hopeful employing the roads-vs-rail rivalry in a state that voted for Obama. California nominee Meg Whitman, the former eBay CEO, has complained that issuing bond debt for high speed rail is unwise in the current economy. She wants the plans put on ice. In Ohio, candidate John Kasich has proposed repurposing the $400 million in stimulus money set aside for faster trains serving Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, and Cincinnati, and using that money for roads. And in Maryland, Republican challenger Bob Erlich has taken issue with Governor Martin O’Malley’s goal to “dial up mass transit.” Erlich says he wants to see a better balance of highway and transit projects, and has suggested that a number of commuter rail projects be converted to a bus program.

The party is not monolithic against rail.

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories

Monday, July 12, 2010

Rusty signs and heedless drivers at 50 of Chicago's most dangerous rail crossings.  (Chicago Tribune)

Texas gubernatorial candidates asked to lay out transportation plans.  (Dallas Morning News)

Legally blind blogger working to improve pedestrian safety around DC (Wash Post).

NY Times drives the return of the Mercedes gullwing, with a $186,000 price tag.

Raleigh-to-Richmond high-speed rail?  The conversation continues in North Carolina.  (WUNC)

New York's transit cuts reach a museum.  (NY Times)

Will the Giro d'Italia come to DC?  (WAMU News)

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