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9/10/2012 8:00:00 AM Write a Letter to the Editor Write a letter to the Editor

Democrats, Republicans Each Claim Credit for Highway Law in Official Party Platforms

By Michele Fuetsch, Staff Reporter

This story appears in the Sept. 10 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.

During their recent presidential nominating conventions, Republicans and Democrats both took credit in their official party platforms for the two-year transportation reauthorization bill passed by Congress and signed by President Obama in July.

However, while the Democratic platform emphasized the “long-term infrastructure investment” contained in the measure because they said it will create jobs, the Republican platform praised the law’s “return to federalism.”

The Republicans said in their platform document that the law gives states more flexibility in spending federal money and speeds up the approval process on transportation projects.

Platforms typically are a list of the actions a political party supports in its effort to appeal to the general public.

The Republican platform also is strongly opposed to a vehicle-miles-traveled tax to pay for projects.

“We oppose any funding mechanism that would involve governmental monitoring of every car and truck in the nation,” the platform said.

The Democratic platform does not mention a VMT, but does call for a national infrastructure bank to help fund projects. Conversely, the Republican platform calls for public-private partnerships to help build and operate roads, bridges, tunnels and transit systems.

As they did during the recent reauthorization debate, in their platform Republicans tied transportation funding to energy policy. They expressed support for new oil drilling offshore and in the arctic wilderness and also supported building the Keystone XL pipeline to carry crude oil extracted from Canadian tar sands to Gulf Coast refineries.

The Democratic platform stressed government support for investments in “clean energy,” and said the party has “made protecting the environment a top priority” offshore and in the Arctic.

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