My choir is singing in Pig Latin.
Not too long ago, Matt Jeanneret, senior vice president of communications and marketing for the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA), verbally strapped me to a target and asked why I did not publish a press release titled “Ten Reasons Why Suspending the Federal Gas Tax Would Be Bad for the Economy and Poor Public Policy.”
“Matt,” I said defiantly as I plucked the arrow out of my side, “if I published this, I would be preaching to the choir.”
On Aug. 11, I did not know what was coming out of my followers’ mouths. That is when we shut down our presidential poll, which asked readers their choice for the White House. Sen. John McCain won—big—in every demographic slice of this sour-tasting loaf. I could have fractioned it down to those who are left-handed and can pat their heads and rub their tummies at the same time, and I am betting McCain would still be doing cartwheels around Sen. Barack Obama.
Jeanneret should frame that verbal arrow, because he got me. I thought I knew my readers like my mother, but it turns out, at least on the political front, I know them like I know my Uncle Marty. He has spoken a total of 12 sentences to me in 38 years and is a scratch golfer. Now you have as much information as I do on the man.
v Actually, I was expecting McCain to raise the “W” flag on our reader poll. Let’s face it, the conservatives in our industry run a million rows deep. But what really chained weights to my dropping jaw was the depth of his dominance even after this squirrel-cheeked politician from Arizona unveiled a Dr. Seuss-looking concoction as a solution to our high gas prices. Let’s give the Americans a tax break, one that would save them a total of perhaps $25 over three months, but would cost the transportation-building industry a blood-sucking $9 billion.
On the subject of highway funding, McCain has made it clear that he is coming to the White House with not a veto pen, but a veto ax. And he has every intention to swing it in the direction of road and bridge builders with the spunk of a rookie lumberjack in the middle of a thick forest in the Pacific Northwest. If elected to the top chair, I predict he will launch a witch hunt that will rival the old days of Salem, and the new reauthorization bill will be the one looked at as having the multicolored eyes. McCain will bar the door that leads to the right funding strategy, a blockade that Congress is simply unwilling to throw a shoulder into. So it will all play out like it did under George W. Bush—the money will show up late and underdressed.
I understand people are looking at this election more from their couch and not the office chair. The economy is the worry that will not go away, but if there is less funding for road and bridge projects, does that not translate into less funding for our families? I’ll take it straight from ARTBA’s “Ten Reasons” on why not to support McCain’s three-month gas-tax break. Reason No. 4 indicates that more than 310,000 Americans whose jobs are currently supported by federal investments in highways and transit will have their employment placed at risk. Need more? How about No. 6, which states the U.S. economy would lose an estimated $23 billion in long-term economic benefits that would be generated by $9 billion in highway and transit investments—a net loss of $14 billion.
That is not quite singing the praises of a better quality of life, but at least I used plain English.
Note: Obama will be the one taking vebal punches in October, as I examine his misdirected transportation plan.