The First Draft: Block that metaphor

June 26, 2009

PEOPLE-JACKSON/Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett may no longer be with us, but Congress is still hanging around. Good thing, too, as they’ve got plenty of work to do.

The House of Representatives is poised to vote today on one of the most significant environmental bills in history. It could be a nail-biter as Democratic leaders are still scrambling to ensure they have enough votes to pass the measure, which aims to wean industry off of carbon-emitting fuels blamed for global warming.

After that it has to clear the Senate, where Republicans will have an easier time derailing it if they so desire.

They’re still plugging away on healthcare reform. Senators say they’re closer to agreement on a $1 trillion bill that would extend coverage to nearly everyone without adding to huge budget deficits.

On top of that, President Obama wants Congress to tackle immigration and overhaul financial regulation by the end of the year. He also hopes to get Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court by September.

Something’s got to give, and that appears to be transportation spending. House Democrats have been working on a $500 billion package that would create a new fund for road repairs and increase spending on transit and rail.

That could require new gas taxes — never a popular option with voters — and Obama’s told Congress to wait until after the 2010 midterm elections to take it up.

So what’s the best metaphor for the transportation bill? Is it:

a. Stuck in traffic?

b. Derailed?

c. In a holding pattern?

photo credit: REUTERS/Nigel Roddis (A tribute to Michael Jackson in London, June 26)

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In a choice between, cars, trains of planes, how about using the middle option – trains – and adding an allusion to the obscure paths legislation frequently takes before it arrives at its destination.

It’s a local subway train and not an express. Lots of stops on the route and a lot of loading and unloading of passengers along the way.

Posted by Paul Rosa | Report as abusive

I would go for option A: Stuck in traffic.

Posted by Nikkei 225 | Report as abusive

For heaven’s sake, whatever *else* is done, I hope it doesn’t involve building yet MORE highways inurba-suburban-exurban areas: they’re traffic-choked enough, and haver been for decades. (Of course, the look great for the home team on the Hill, too, in terms of jobs, grants, etc. generated.)

That is not to say ignore critical issues such as bridges; we don’t need anymore Minnesota bridge collapses. [Note to Minnesotans — I’m in no way criticizing anything about you or your state, only identifying by name the state where such a terrible accident happened.] Less urgently, the same can be said regarding our transnational rail links along those sections there may be a reasonably clear expectation those sections might be part of a [badly-needed] revitalized intercity railway network.

Don’t like either of those? How about addressing some of our air transport issues, then? Especially next-generation air traffic control, most desperately needed in places such as the greater New York City area, where a single delay can have a ripple effect rolling right across the nation (and across the Big Pond to Europe, for that matter).

Then there are the oft-underused waterways, underused in the sense of passenger transport. How many ferry services are there on rivers entirely capable of handling them with population clusters along riverbanks adequate to reasonably expect a ferry company to turn a profit are there? Darned few.

Of course, the most likely candidate is yet more highways. Wonderful; now we can have ten more lanes to sit in and stew an hour to cover 2-3 miles during rush hour — with “rush hour” now having turned into a damn-to-dusk affair, at the very least, in many urban areas.

But never mind; the politicians will have lined up their support and, um, “campaign contributions.”

Posted by Mekhong Kurt | Report as abusive

Paul Rosa, you will soon learn if you haven’t already it is difficult to find open minds in America on the topic of transportation.

Posted by Anubis | Report as abusive