Coming up: TSA body scanners on public transportation

November 24, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Get on the bus.

Jazz has a list of reasons why he doesn’t object to the body scanners. Now it looks like we’ll be getting scanners all over the place, including public transportation, trains and boats. Janet Napolitano: “I think the tighter we get on aviation, we have to also be thinking now about going on to mass transit [...]

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Hot Air » Top Picks

2009 Transportation Act Prohibits WBI Use As Primary Screening Tool

November 20, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

A bipartisan amendment to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Authorization Act of 2009 “prohibits the TSA from using Whole Body Imaging (WBI) machines for primary screening.” Today TSA calls this equipment Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT).

The amendment was co-sponsored by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH) and passed the House on a 310-118 vote. See how your Representative voted. (Seven of Washington State’s nine Congressmen voted yes: only Hastings (R) and Dicks (D) voted no.)

The bill (HR2200, summary) is stalled in the U.S. Senate; it passed the House on a 397-25-11 vote. See how your Representative voted.

According to Speaker of the House Pelosi:

This bill is the first reauthorization of TSA since it was created in the Aviation and Transportation Security Act of 2001 (PL 107-71).  (In 2002, TSA was moved into DHS when the Department was created.) The bill authorizes $ 7.6 billion in FY 2010 and $ 8.1 billion in FY 2011 for the activities of TSA, including key increases over FY 2009 funding.

Ever since TSA was created in 2001, its focus has been on aviation security.  A key aspect of this legislation is beginning to put surface transportation security on an equal footing with aviation security – with key surface transportation security enhancements.

Consumer Traveler lauded the bill, noting that this was ” the first time [since 2001] that Congress said, ‘Whoa, TSA.”

On 8 June 2009, the bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, where it has languished. The committee is composed of 25 Senators and led by Chairman John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV (D-WV) and Ranking Member Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX).

Remaining Democrats (alpha)

  1. Senator Mark Begich, AK
  2. Senator Barbara Boxer, CA
  3. Senator Maria Cantwell, WA
  4. Senator Byron L. Dorgan, ND
  5. Senator Daniel K. Inouye, HI
  6. Senator John F. Kerry, MA
  7. Senator Amy Klobuchar, MN
  8. Senator Frank R. Lautenberg, NJ
  9. Senator Claire McCaskill, MO
  10. Senator Bill Nelson, FL
  11. Senator Mark Pryor, AK
  12. Senator Tom Udall, NM
  13. Senator Mark Warner ,VA

Remaining Republicans (alpha)

  1. Senator Sam Brownback, KS
  2. Senator Jim DeMint, SC
  3. Senator John Ensign, NV
  4. Senator Johnny Isakson, GA
  5. Senator Mike Johanns, NE
  6. Senator George S. LeMieux, FL
  7. Senator Olympia Snowe, ME
  8. Senator John Thune, SD
  9. Senator David Vitter, LA
  10. Senator Roger Wicker, MS

This is cross-posted from

The Moderate Voice

House GOP Spending Plan Would Force States To Make Deeper Cuts In Education, Housing, and Transportation

November 12, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

In their “Pledge to America,” House Republicans insist that one of the ways in which they plan to reduce the federal deficit is rolling non-defense discretionary spending back to the 2008 level. As Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) put it when pressed for specific budget items that he would cut, “the line item will be across the board.”

Of course, this practically means that vital and popular programs and agencies — such as Pell Grants, the FBI, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the National Park Service — will be subjected to huge cuts. (McCarthy, for his part, gets upset when someone points this out to him.) And as the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities noted, on its face, the Pledge also translates into a substantial cut in federal aid to states, causing those states to be even more of a drag on economic recovery than they are already:

If lawmakers were to cut appropriations for state and local governments by 21.7 percent (that is, if lawmakers reduce those appropriations in proportion to the overall reduction that would be required for non-security programs), those appropriations would be $ 31.6 billion below what President Obama proposed for 2011. Moreover, House GOP leaders have not specified whether they would include transportation programs in the category of programs subject to the reduction. If obligations for those programs faced the same 21.7 percent reduction, that would mean an additional $ 11 billion in cuts for state and local government activities related to highways, mass transit, and airports.

To put this into more tangible terms, “If Congress cut federal funding for each state- and local-run program by 21.7 percent in 2011, K-12 education would be cut by $ 8.7 billion, housing programs by $ 6.9 billion, children and family services by nearly $ 2.2 billion, and the nutrition program for at-risk pregnant women, infants, and young children (WIC) by $ 1.6 billion.”

Due to the deteriorating condition of their budgets and the fact that most of them have a constitutional balanced budget requirement, the states have been a substantial drag on the economy. In fact, cutbacks at the state and local level basically offset the effect of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, so that little net money was pumped into the economy. And state cutbacks also have tangible effects on the private sector: Cisco reported disappointing sales and profits in the last quarter as a result of state government orders falling 48 percent.

Over the last few months, local governments have been hemorrhaging jobs — 14,000 just last month, excluding education — which leads to decreased personal spending and higher social safety net expenditures by states and the federal government. Actually implementing the House Republican vision of the federal budget would simply exacerbate this problem.

Wonk Room

The High-Speed Case for State Control of Transportation Funding

November 11, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 
style="float: right; margin-bottom: 1px; margin-left: 1px;"> href=""> class="alignnone size-full wp-image-46486" title="DeptOfTransportation-Seal.svg" src="" alt="" width="240" height="240" />

The Obama administration is still in denial about the message the American people sent Washington last Tuesday. In letters to Ohio Governor-elect John Kasich and Wisconsin Governor-elect Scott Walker href="">obtained by Reuters, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood threatened to take away stimulus money from the states unless they used it for President Barack Obama’s high-speed rail plans. LaHood wrote:

I respect the authority of governors to make decisions for their states. If, however, you choose not to participate in the program, we would like to engage in an orderly transition to wind down Ohio’s involvement in the project so that we do not waste taxpayers’ money.

There is only one waste of money going on here and that is President Obama’s high speed rail plans. Heritage fellow Ron Utt has href="">written extensively on why high-speed rail is such a financial disaster: id="more-46485">

In 2008, Amtrak’s inspector general published an analysis of government subsidies to passenger rail in Europe and compared them to Amtrak’s subsidies. One purpose of the review was to address the contention that passenger rail in other countries, especially HSR, operates at a profit (i.e., without subsidies). For 1995-2006, the study found that the governments of Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Spain, Denmark, and Austria spent “a combined total of $ 42 billion annually on their national passenger railroads.” The $ 42 billion that these six countries, which have a combined population of 269 million, spent on just passenger rail in 2006is roughly proportionate to the $ 54.8 billion (most of which was funded by user fees) that the government of the United States (population of 309 million) spent on all forms of transportation, including highways, rail, aviation, water transport, and mass transit.

To put the European commitment to passenger rail in perspective, rail ridership (high speed, conventional intercity, and metropolitan commuter rail) in these six countries accounted for just 7.9 percent of all surface transportation modes on a per passenger, per billion kilometer basis. This suggests that these countries received a poor return on their money given that more than 90 percent of passengers in these countries chose other travel modes– mostly auto–despite the subsidies.

States should not have their transportation funding priorities dictated to them by the federal government. That is why one of the top href="">Solutions for America for the 112th Congress should be to href="">Re-embrace Federalism.

The Foundry: Conservative Policy News.

Transportation and Equality

October 31, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

The idea has gotten out there that reforming American transportation policy to make it less focused on subsidizing automobile ownership is some kind of specifically “yuppie” concern. The reality, as Angela Glover Blackwell explains in a Q&A with Sarah Goodyear, is quite different and the primary beneficiaries of reform would be poor minorities:

There are a couple of things I want to point out in that regard. One is that the bottom fifth of the nation, the poorest fifth of Americans, spend 42 percent of their annual household budget on an automobile budget, more than twice the national average. So for people who are poor, owning an automobile is a burdensome thing.

Nearly 25 percent of African-Americans do not have access to a car, compared that with 7 percent of non-Hispanic whites. You have nearly the same number of Latinos who do not have access to a car. So this is huge, this is not an isolated problem. For people who are spending too much of their income—over 40 percent just to own a car—clearly this has a devastating impact on the economy in terms of all of the things that people cannot do and cannot participate in.

It’s only the near-total disenfranchisement of genuinely poor people in American politics and American political media that gives the topic a yuppie cast. Mandatory minimum parking rules that in effect tax non-drivers to subsidize car commuters are a hugely regressive measure. Dedicated bus lanes and more frequent service are a great way to spread the wealth around.


147,000 Rail Riders in Entire Year in Ohio Seen as ‘Demand for Transportation Choice’

October 29, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Buckeye State residents are supposed to be impressed with media reports like this one from WXIX in Cincinnati telling us that passenger rail ridership increased 14% last year to almost 147,000.

That's just over 400 people a day. In the whole state. Spread over seven station stops in multiple cities. You've got to be kidding me.

Context, people.

read more - Exposing Liberal Media Bias

Obama Pitches For Overhaul Of “Woefully Inefficient” Transportation Infrastructure

October 11, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

ABC News’ Sunlen Miller Reports: Bringing together governors, mayors, and former transportation secretaries, President Obama said today that the country’s “short-sightedness has come due,” on transportation infrastructure. “It should not take another collapsing bridge or failing levee to shock us…

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Political Punch

Big Government: Chicago: No Money, Let’s Build Useless Public Transportation!

August 30, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Conclusion: Democrats are insane.

Liberty Pundits Blog

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