I think Martin misses the source of some of our disappointment in his post on LaHood. Here’s Martin:

I’ll take the opportunity to state that I’m not expecting a huge push from the administration to end the nation’s  emphasis on roads, make the car obsolete, or any of the other more radical goals of public transportation advocates.  The postwar consensus  in favor of the auto is a bipartisan one, and there are only so many transformations of American society that one administration can successfully execute.  It’s clear that the emphasis will be on the economy, the wars, health care, and climate change.  I’d expect Obama, Biden, and LaHood to help out at the margins with appointments and such, but those who are really disappointed in the LaHood pick should probably modulate their expectations.

Part of the disappointment with LaHood is the realization that we are not getting a real transportation progressive. LaHood has a bad record on  environmental issues, and he has voted for off-shore drilling and drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge. He got a 66% from highway builders, and has supported Amtrak a couple of times and bicycles a couple of times. Fine so he’s a moderate.

But another huge part of the disappointment was the realization that Obama is not taking the transportation department any more seriously than previous presidents who used the department’s cabinet position for political purposes. At least Norman Mineta, George Bush’s token democrat in his cabinet, had transporation experience as chair of various house transportation committees and subcommitees. The problem with LaHood is that not only does he seem like a purely political appointment, he has shown little interest in transportation in his time in the House. Obama has said he wants to appoint the best people for the job. Is Ray LaHood the best person for this job, even among people who share his view?

3 Replies to “LaHood Again”

  1. Creating jobs and getting the economy going seems to be the easy part of the equation – just print and throw enough money at the problem, and things get better, for a while.
    The hard part, in my opinion, is to spend the money where you end up with tangible benefits that far out weigh the cost. Try building the Hoover Dam or a BPA power grid today. Those investments 70 years ago were real bargains, looking back.
    I only hope “Team Obama” keeps the environment, energy independence, and transportation infrastructure as key and equal objectives when winnowing the list of projects down to budget size.
    It would be a shame to blindly ‘block grant’ huge sums to the states and locals, with few if any strings attached.
    Of course, I can’t resist touting my own favorite project. Completing the Cascade Corridor High Speed Rail Project (OK, medium speed in our case- 115 mph) is a win,win,win. Talgo trainsets create far less greenhouse emissions than cars, buses or planes, get far better fuel economy, and provide city center to city center, regional options that compete or exceed current travel times by all three other modes. There, I got it out, without gushing!

  2. I’m really disappointed it’s not Earl Blumenauer or Parris Glendening. Even a Steve Heminger would’ve been better. With a major transpo stimulus package needed and planned, this is NOT the cabinet post to put a token Republican in. And we can do way better than LaHood. Maybe he’ll leave in a year or two.

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