The federal Highway Trust Fund is expected to go broke in early August unless Congress comes up with a new source of revenue to augment the federal gasoline tax. If the fund dries up, road and bridge construction projects could be put on hold across the country during the peak of the summer construction season. Altogether, an estimated 112,000 construction projects could be cancelled and 700,000 jobs lost. The Vermont Transportation Agency already has announced that it is poised to delay 38 bridge, rail and road projects.
What do the Republicans in Congress want to do? How much are they prepared to invest in our crumbling infrastructure? “Unbelievably,” said Sen, Bernie Sanders, “the answer is NOTHING. At a time when we have massive income and wealth inequality, and one out of four corporations pays nothing in federal income taxes, the Republicans are rejecting all efforts to raise new revenue to rebuild our country and create jobs.”
Sanders is a member of the Senate public works committee. “For most of our history,” he said, “the United States led the world in transportation innovation, from a network of canals, to the transcontinental railroad to the interstate highway system. These innovations gave our economy a competitive advantage and our workers a decent standard of living. These investments made us the economic leader of the world.
“Unfortunately, however, right-wing Republicans have a different vision. Their anti-government, anti-tax ideology is so extreme that they are prepared to allow America to descend into a Third World infrastructure and, in the process, sabotage our economy and job growth.
“Now is the time for the American people to say NO to Republican extremism and demand that we build a modern and productive infrastructure which supports a growing economy.”