Tuesday's election will have important consequences for the way the US
funds its transportation infrastructure needs in the future, a
researcher who studies US transportation financing told II.
Senator Barack Obama would likely use federal money to pay for
transportation infrastructure projects, while Senator John McCain
would likely turn to the private sector to help pay for the maintenance and restoration of the country's transportation system, according to Adrian Moore, vice president of research at the Reason Foundation in California, a free market think tank.
“Obama clearly seems to be more willing to defer to federal spending
because he talks about spending a lot more than McCain does,” Moore
Senator McCain has not been a vehement advocate of using the private
sector to solve problems, but “he leans a lot more that way”, Moore
Senator Obama repeatedly has backed federal initiatives, such as a $60
billion National Infrastructure Reinvestment Bank. Senator McCain has
made repeated references to cutting federal sources for transportation
funding like the gas tax.
Once elected, the candidates will have to consider as one of their
first items Congress' next transportation funding bill.
Moore, a commissioner on the US Department of Transportation's National Surface Transportation Infrastructure Financing Commission, said public private partnerships (PPPs) will be a big part of the debate over the next transportation bill. He said cash-strapped states might be forced to seek more private investment with fewer federal dollars available under a McCain administration.
“I would have to see a McCain presidency as being more likely to
result in an environment where PPPs are more fully integrated [into
the transportation bill] than an Obama presidency,” he said.
States would be less incentivised under an Obama regime to seek
solutions in PPPs with more federal money available to fund projects,
“States like free money,” he said.
Congress created the National Surface Transportation Infrastructure
Financing Commission to study the nation's transportation spending
needs. The commission will make recommendations by the end of the year
about approaches to financing transportation infrastructure.