Muckraker: Grist on Politics

Via Greater Greater Washington, representatives for both Barack Obama and John McCain spoke on a panel about transportation here in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday. Local radio station WTOP reports on what they had to say, at least about transit in Our Nation’s Capital:

Where does your candidate stand on rail to Dulles?

Mortimer Downey, adviser to Obama: He feels very strongly and favorably to rail. Rail to Dulles is the kind of thing we are looking for. Actually I’d like to see Dulles approved while the Bush Administration is still in place, because we need to get on with it quickly.

Douglas Holtz-Eakin, senior policy adviser to McCain: The most important thing that Sen. McCain is going to address, as president, is using transportation dollars more wisely. He has also made a clear commitment for having options on the table for rail.

An issue that has been highly publicized in the D.C. region is dedicated funding for the Metro system, which is the second busiest transit system in the country, yet lacks a dedicated source of funding. A bill has just been signed by President Bush which would provide Metro with $1.5 billion over 10 years — an amount that must be matched by Virginia, Maryland and D.C.

Does your candidate support funding for the Metro system?

Downey: Sen. Obama did vote for the $1.5 billion for the Metro system, which is very important to its future. Sen. McCain did not and made it clear that was one of his reasons for voting against that bill.

Holtz-Eakin: Sen. McCain has been busy campaigning and has missed a lot of votes. I don’t think anything special should be read into that one. The Senator recognizes the importance of the transportation sector to both our economy and our lifestyles and what we need going forward is some performance and accountability in our taxpayer dollars that go into infrastructure.

How important is it to invest in infrastructure?

Downey: We should be investing in infrastructure now. We should be putting 2 million people back to work on rebuilding roadways and bridges and transit in the very short term. In the long term, it’s an important investment for the future of America.

Holtz-Eakin: There will be more infrastructure investments going forward — it is an imperative — but they have to be done wisely, and that is the top priority.