Transit is a great example of how government can play a positive role

Transportation is a great example of the positive role government can play in providing services. But Republicans have prevented the passage of a transportation budget, and without further, Metro Transit will have to make drastic cut to bus routes.

Mayors, city council member and the business community are nearly unanimous in calling for passage of a transportation package that funds transit.  See The “Majority Coalition” hearing on transportation in Bellevue and any of numerous editorials in local newspapers.

But Republicans have been dragging their feet and demanding “reforms” before agreeing to a transportation package: weakened environmental permitting, an  end to the prevailing wage (yet another knife in the back of the Labor), or the exemption of transportation packages from the sales tax (yet another hit to the general fund).  They’ve even refused to allow King County to ask voters to approve a local funding option for transit.

Is there any legitimate reason other than spite and leverage for Republicans to prevent King County voters from pursuing a local funding option?

Transportation is a great example of the positive role government can play in providing services. But it’s also an example of how government can play a bad role. (Such examples abound in the national arena.)

The proposed GOP budget favors cars over public transit and bikes. As Rep. Ross Hunter says in his post on transportation, “Less than 2% of the total value of the Senate Republican proposal package supports public transit, bike and pedestrian mobility and stormwater management. This may make sense in some parts of the state, but it doesn’t do so here” in the Puget Sound area.   For more about the GOP transportation package, see We Don’t Need a $12B Transportation Package.

It’s best to see the Republicans’ inaction on the transportation budget as part of the long-term Republican plan to drown government in a bathtub. The “no tax” pledge was key.

Nationally, the sequester was good a realization of the pledge. Its only redeeming feature is that it reduces Pentagon spending too.

According to Why Obama’s Big Inequality Speech Missed Out on the Political Realities That Stand in the Way of Progress, without drastic changes, the sort of cuts we’ve seen in the last year will continue for ten years.

Even in WA State, anti-government forces are shrinking government. Education, public transit, and social services have taken big hits.

A central challenge is to inform the public about why we need government and about our regressive tax system.   Few members of the public are well-informed about these issues, due to the deterioration of journalism.

But people hate crowded roads, so this is a perfect chance for Democrats and progressives to educate the public about government, taxes, and what will happen to our country if we don’t fund good government.  Health care and education are similar. But can we get our message out?

 This traffic jam courtesy of Rodney Tom and the Senate Republicans

 

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