Harry Reid was right when he claimed that lobbyists are people too, but the intentions of some may differ from what the country needs at the moment. Over in the House chamber, the effects of K Street can be seen in the tweaks made to the upcoming economic stimulus, valued at around $850 billion dollars. The additional tax cuts tucked in there aren't just being tacked on, they're taking away funds from the budget to repair our nation's infrastructure, especially mass transit. The chair of the House transportation panel, Jim Oberstar (D-MN) has the goods on what happened.
That is why we set forth this $85-billion initiative from our committee. It's been reduced in the final going. We expect that it'll come out somewhere around $63 billion, but $30 billion for highways.
The reason for the reduction in overall funding -- we took money out of Amtrak and out of aviation; we took money out of the Corps of Engineers, reduced the water infrastructure program, the drinking water and the wastewater treatment facilities and sewer lines, reduced that from $14 billion to roughly $9 billion -- was the tax cut initiative that had to be paid for in some way by keeping the entire package in the range of $850 billion.
But I'll say that our portion is the one that really creates the jobs. Our portion of it is the one that's going to put people to work because unlike anything else, these jobs can't be outsourced to Bangalore, India.
The money is coming out of all the wrong places and you can thank the House leadership for that. Kudos to Oberstar for saying something to someone about the matter, but this cannot be the end of the story. We desperately need investment in our nation's infrastructure, far more than just another tax cut. The dividends a job pays is so much more than what too many lobbyists in D.C. are advocating for.