Bush Scandals List

374. Selling off the country’s roads

In an August 29, 2006 speech, Assistant Secretary for Transportation Policy Tyler Duvall laid out the rationale to privatize the country’s infrastructure, especially its roads:

The reasons are obvious: infrastructure (in transportation, we are talking about highways, airports, seaports, railroads and pipelines, primarily) as an asset class, particularly in the U.S., offers very stable long-run returns at medium risk.

The idea is if you want to play (or drive), you have to pay.

USDOT is increasingly attracted to the potential benefits offered by the growing move to a direct user fee model in which a willing private sector can bear large amounts of financing and system management risk.

To this end, he has written model laws for states to create private toll roads and got Congress to approve $15 billion in tax exempt bonds for them.

Duvall is another Bush free market ideologue with no background in transportation. He got his first job at Transportation in 2002 as he describes it as “It was a friend of a friend of a friend sort of thing.” He has been aided by the Department’s General Counsel D.J. Gribbin who got his job through his father’s connections to Dick Cheney and Halliburton and his own to Ralph Reed’s Christian Coalition. A GAO study reported that private toll roads charge more than their public counterparts because they have to generate profits for investors. The nation’s infrastructure should be something more than an “asset class.” This is what happened to crude oil and we saw how well that turned out.

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