Streams

 

Obama Budget

The Takeaway

Obama's Budget Reflects Reelection Agenda

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

President Obama presented his 2013 budget to Congress on Monday that includes $1.5 trillion in new taxes over the next ten years for the wealthiest taxpayers, closing some corporate tax breaks, and allowing Bush-era tax cuts to expire. However, it's not all cuts: the budget outlines increased spending for infrastructure projects, job-training, and innovation. Overall, it aims to lower the deficit below $1 trillion.

Comments [1]

It's A Free Country ®

Obama Courts Youth in 2013 Budget Address

Monday, February 13, 2012

Proposing a budget that would shrink the deficit by $4 trillion over the next ten years, President Obama hopes to stay in office for four of them.

Comments [3]

It's A Free Blog

Opinion: Obama's Budget Bait

Monday, February 13, 2012

With momentum in his favor, Obama needs to keep doing what he's doing: setting a trap for the GOP presidential hopefuls.

Read More

Comments [2]

Transportation Nation

A Man, A Plan, a Canal—Miami

Thursday, March 17, 2011

(Matt Dellinger, Transportation Nation) At noon today, Florida Governor Rick Scott is scheduled to take a helicopter tour of the Panama Canal expansion, to see firsthand the third set of locks that will allow bigger ships to pass from the Pacific Ocean into the Caribbean and, Scott hopes, on into the Port of Miami.

Scott traveled to Panama—his first trade mission as Governor—just weeks after he suggested that his state should fully fund a planned deepening of Miami’s port to allow those bigger ships to dock. He announced the plan on the same day he formally rejected $2.4 billion dollars in federal high speed rail money. In the face of criticism that he is thwarting economic development by refusing to pursue rail, Scott has made a point of touting the 33,000 jobs the dredging is projected to create. Miami is already the nation’s eleventh largest container port by volume, and allowing “New Panamax” ships to call could double its capacity when the canal widening is completed in 2014.

The dredging, which would increase the shipping channel’s depth from 45 feet to 50 feet, is expected to cost around $150 million. Normally the federal government would pay half of that (they pay 65% for dredging down to 45 feet), but in its 2012 budget proposal, the Obama Administration failed to earmark the money Miami needed to proceed, leaving the role of port champion open for Scott to fill.

The Governor has presented the port enhancements as a sort of alternative to the Tampa-to-Orlando High Speed Rail project, but money for the two projects would flow from different springs in Washington: while rail is a Department of Transportation responsibility, ship channel dredging is the purview of the Army Corps of Engineers, and appropriations come from Energy and Water bills.

However, transportation dollars are already playing a huge role in the port’s expansion. The TIGER II stimulus program provided $22.7 million to help rebuild the port’s freight rail connection, and construction has already started on a $610 million tunnel that will obviate what is now a parade of containers through downtown Miami, as trucks make their way to Interstate 95.

Both projects are on track to be completed in 2014, the year the Panama Canal expansion opens. State and local governments have already come up with financing for the tunnel, their half of the dredging, and ancillary tasks like strengthening retaining walls and installing newer, wider, taller cranes. The federal share of the dredging funds—a relatively small sum of $77 million—is the last and the most important piece of the puzzle. The necessary studies have been done, and there’s not much time to wait.

“It's such a tight schedule,” Juan M. Kuryla, the Deputy Port Director, told me. “The canal is going to open in 2014, you're going to have a tunnel open in 2014, the rail is going to be open in 2014, and the last leg of the stool is this deep dredge. I always equate it like you're building airport. The brand new airport is done, you've got the connection to the interstate highway system, you got the terminal and everything done, and the only thing you're missing is the runway is not long enough to land the 747's. And our runway is our water and it's not deep enough.”

Kuryla and his colleagues have not been shy about expressing their needs. When I toured the Port of Miami late last year, before Rick Scott’s tenure began, a sign at the downtown entrance to the bridge leading to the port read “Mr. PRESIDENT, Deep Dredging = 33,000 new jobs.” Obama had recently come through town, and port officials were eager to communicate just how badly they needed recognition in the federal budget.

Container shipping companies joined the chorus as well, sending letters to the President last fall. Ian Calms, Vice President of Terminal Strategy & Development for CMA CGM wrote the president to “respectfully urge” him to fund the deep dredge. “The Port of Miami is the only port south of Norfolk, Virginia, that has Congressional authorization to dredge to -50 feet,” he pointed out, “and perhaps most importantly is the only port that can complete the project in the next three-four years.”

On November 14th, CMA CGM brought its ship the Don Carlos to Miami to show just how impressive these new, larger post-Panamax ships were. The Don Carlos carries an impressive 8500 TEUs (Twenty-foot Equivalent Units, or standard containers). The current Panama Canal locks permit boats carrying about 5000 TEUs, but the expansion will allow ships carrying 13,000 TEUs. “The largest ship we do now is about 5800 TEUs, and if that one comes fully laden, we have to wait for high tide and only the two newest cranes can work it,” Kuryla said. “They couldn't bring the Don Carlos in here fully laden. You could see the watermark on the ship. It was more than half empty. But with the 50 feet dredge, we can handle 8500 TEU's fully laden with the proper equipment. We're excited. But we need the 50 feet. If not we're going to remain a second tier port.”

Kuryla says the port doesn't even need the full $77 million to get moving on the deep dredge. A "symbolic appropriation" from Congress would allow the Corps to start drawing up contracts. But with the current budgetary climate in Washington, the port will likely find its money closer to home.

Since Governor Scott's initial declaration, almost two weeks ago, that he had "directed the Florida Department of Transportation to amend their work plan to include $77 million so that Florida can take another leap forward in international trade,” there have been no further news or details on the state's efforts to fund the dredge. Emails and calls to the Governor's office from Transportation Nation went unreturned on Wednesday. We will update this post with any developments.

Matt Dellinger is the author of the book Interstate 69: The Unfinished History of the Last Great American Highway. You can follow him on Twitter.

Read More

Comment

Transportation Nation

Transportation Budget Responses 5: Senator Jim DeMint

Monday, February 14, 2011

President Obama released his proposed budget for 2012 this morning. We are collecting responses and parsing through everything transportation and infrastructure related in the $3.7 trillion dollars of spending.

We'll be posting various responses and a round-up at the end of the day.

U.S. Senator Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina), chairman of the Senate Steering Committee, issued a harsh critique of the president's budget as spending too much, expanding federal power, and for raising taxes on oil, coal and gas producers.

Much of his response does not have to do with transportation, but he does mention the 68% percent increase over last year's spending levels as evidence of Obama's fiscal irresponsibility.

From DeMint's statement:

“One-third of the President’s claimed ‘savings’ are tax increases so the Democrats can keep up their big-government spending plans. Instead of increasing Washington’s control over areas like education and transportation, we need to devolve these decisions back to the states. It’s time to change course, stop the wasteful Washington spending and begin making the hard decisions to save our nation from the coming fiscal crisis.”

Follow Transportation Nation on Twitter.

Read More

Comment

Transportation Nation

Transportation Budget Responses 4: U.S. PIRG

Monday, February 14, 2011

The U.S. Public Interest Resource Group likes the allocation to infrastructure in the President's budget.  We'll be posting statements as we get them...and rounding up what's in the budget at the end of the day.

From a U.S. PIRG statement:

Statement by U.S. PIRG Senior Tax and Budget Analyst Phineas Baxandall, on the Obama administration’s FY 2012 transportation budget proposal, which includes a major increase in transportation funding and an $8 billion annual investment in high-speed rail.

“The administration’s budget request proves that President Obama is serious about investing in the future, while bringing much-needed reform to our broken transportation system.”

Read More

Comment

Transportation Nation

Transportation Budget Responses 3: American Public Transportation Assocation

Monday, February 14, 2011

The American Public Transportation Association is pleased with transportation spending levels in the budget, which, if it passes unchanged, would mean a 60 percent increase over last year. The APTA also likes Obama's proposal of a $30 billion infrastructure bank.

President Obama released his proposed budget for 2012 this morning. We are collecting responses and parsing through everything transportation and infrastructure related in the $3.7 trillion dollars of spending.

We’ll be posting various responses and a round-up at the end of the day.

From the APTA statement:

“We applaud President Obama for his leadership and vision in making public transportation and high-speed rail programs a high national priority,” said APTA President William Millar. “Given the difficult federal budget environment and the need to grow jobs and the economy, the President’s proposal recognizes the difference between spending and investment.”

Read More

Comment

Transportation Nation

Transportation Budget Responses 2: US DOT, Sec. Ray LaHood

Monday, February 14, 2011

President Obama released his proposed budget for 2012 this morning. We are collecting responses and parsing through everything transportation and infrastructure related in the $3.7 trillion dollars of spending.

We’ll be posting various responses and a round-up at the end of the day.

Here's the official response from the U.S. Department of Transportation. Not surprisingly, Secretary of Transportation supports his boss' budget noting that the $129 billion budget for the Department of Transportation is part of a six-year plan to help "win the future," the emerging slogan of the Obama administration introduced in his State of the Union speech.

A 52 page summary of the DOT budget is online here if you have the printer ink for it.

From the DOT Statement:

“President Obama’s budget for the Department of Transportation is a targeted investment in America’s economic success,” said Secretary LaHood.  “If we’re going to win the future, we have to out-compete the rest of the world by moving people, goods, and information more quickly and reliably than ever before.  President Obama’s investments in rebuilding our crumbling roadways and runways, and modernizing our railways and bus systems will help us do just that.”

Nationwide, our transportation systems are already congested and overburdened.  With the United States’ population expected to grow from more than 300 million in 2010 to more than 400 million by 2050, rebuilding and expanding the capacity of our roads, airports and transit systems is a strategic necessity for long-term economic growth.  The transportation investments proposed in President Obama’s FY12 budget will put Americans to work repairing the bridges and repaving the roads we have now, while supporting the development of the new electric buses and high-speed rail lines of America’s future.

Read More

Comments [1]