House Speaker John Boehner spoke to reporters yesterday morning. His message: “Republicans Relentlessly Focused on Jobs.”
“House Republicans want to get a highway bill done,” he said. “We want a bill, and our colleagues are working toward producing a bill. We just want to make sure it’s a bill that includes real reforms, to ensure that taxpayer funds are paying for legitimate projects that support economic activity – not planting more flowers and beautification projects around the country.”
Of course, Boehner is hiding behind the “no flower” argument to mask the House GOP’s real objective — dismantling the Senate transportation bill’s provisions for street safety programs, which are funded from the same pot as “scenic beautification” projects. The GOP’s true target — the Cardin-Cochran amendment — gives local agencies control over funds from programs to make streets safer for walking and biking, including Safe Routes to School and Transportation Enhancements. Those funds go toward transportation projects that save people money, reduce congestion, improve air quality, and combat obesity.
Not only does that money go a long way in terms of building infrastructure and getting results, it also produces more construction jobs per dollar than highway spending. So maybe Boehner is not really focused on jobs — “Relentlessly Focused on Fossil Fuels” is more like it. In his comments, Boehner added that the House GOP also supports “bipartisan, job-creating initiatives like the Keystone pipeline” — which is expected to create about 6,000 jobs. (Hardly enough to have a real impact on the nation’s unemployment, when last month’s job growth of 69,000 was considered extremely weak.)