From Denver: Dems Discuss Funding Woes; Biden Says “Amtrak”

bidenAP.jpgLast night saw what might one day qualify as an historic moment in transportation circles, as vice presidential candidate Joe Biden used the "A"-word during his speech to the Democratic National Convention in Denver. From a transcript of Biden's address, via CNN:

You know, John McCain is my friend. And I know you hear that phrase used all the time in politics. I mean it. John McCain is my friend.

We've traveled the world together. It's a friendship that goes beyond politics. And the personal courage and heroism demonstrated by John still amazes me.

But I profoundly disagree with the direction John wants to take this country, from Afghanistan to Iraq, from Amtrak to veterans.

Meanwhile, earlier in the week, a panel of Democratic pols and economists seemed to agree that new investment in American infrastructure -- including freight and commuter rail -- is sorely needed, but came up short on the subject of funding. Roll Call reports:

They all expressed the need for a private-public partnership, but the question of where to raise federal funding caused anxiety among the elected officials.

One key issue was that the current system for infrastructure funding, implemented in the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956, relies on gas taxes for revenue. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) called any attempt by Congress to raise the gas tax “dead on arrival.”

But Gov. Ed Rendell (D-Pa.) said that with or without the gas tax something had to be done to bridge the funding gap, noting that the $1.6 trillion cited by the ASCE report would only cover maintenance, not new projects.

“When I became governor I had to raise $2.4 billion in taxes,” Rendell said. “When re-election came around — people aren’t stupid — one incumbent lost and she voted against the tax increase.

“This is the time we have to challenge the American people. Folks, you get what you pay for.”

Photo: Associated Press via CNN