Is it possible that the GOP's new incarnation of its notoriously oil transportation bill is even worse than before? Maybe. The initial version crashed and burned, but Transportation Nation just broke the news that the Republican House leadership is moving forward with a smaller, 18-month plan that retains much of the original 5-year plan's agenda. The previous plan's enormous price tag, reckless drilling measures, and attempt to cut mass transit funding out of the Highway Trust Fund was extreme enough that it even sent Republicans running. I detailed the drama surrounding the monstrosity in this Salon piece.
So how could this one be worse?Here's Transportation Nation:
The bill also gleans about $40 billion from new cuts to federal worker pensions, a move guaranteed to enrage Democrats, especially since the figure appears to be much larger than a $10 billion estimated gap in the bill for the Highway Trust Fund.So, to recap: Mass transit funding is safe for now, but the GOP now intends to gut working class pensions instead, slashing them far beyond the amount required to pay for transit. The drill-tastic extravaganza remains in place—opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refugee, mandating offshore drilling, and opening millions of acres of public lands to oil shale drilling.
The rest of the bill’s policies remain largely the same to the 5-year bill that was scuttled when conservatives also rejected it because of its $260 billion price tag. Republicans do not yet have a total cost figure for the 18-month bill, an aide said.
As for whether or not the new incarnation is actually worse than before I'll leave up to you to decide. But it's certainly a travesty. Get the latest details at Transportation Nation.