Rendell extols virtues of infrastructure spending
Pennsylvania Gov. Edward G. Rendell disn't break any new ground with his sermon to the Greatter Baltimore Committee this morning on the need for massive spending on infrastructure projects, but he certainly got the crowd of business and civic leaders energized.
Rendell was one of five speakers this morning at the GBC transportation event at the Hyatt Regency, but he was certainly the most entertaining as he spelled out his reasons why the United States should spend billions in infrastructure projects in the coming years.
"Ladies and gentlemen, I wast to spend more money. I want to spend more money on American infrastructure because when you sepnd more money, you make money," he told the gathering of several hundred.
The two-term Democratic governor's call for spending may bbe flying in the face of a political headwind, but Rendell didn't seem to mind. He cited studies by engineering groups tthat the nation has trillions of dollars of unmet transportation needs.
Rendell made the case that the government actually saves money when it keeps its infrastructure in good repair. He said it would have cost U.S. taxpayers $748 million to fix the New Orleans levees before Hurriicane Katrina, while the bill for repairing them afterward was about $15 billion.
The governor spared neither party, accusing the Republicans of irresponsibly opposing investmentents in the nation's future and labeling members of his party who won't stand up to them as "scared rabbits."
Not even President Obama was spared, even though Rendell praised the administration's plan for $50 billion in up-front infrastructure spending in the next federal transportation bill. Rendell said Obama "may be the only reasonable person" who opposes an increase in the federal gasoline tax.
Rendell urged GBC members to put pressure on elected officials who won't support aggressive investment in transportation. "You've got to beat up these guys," he said. "You've got to stop giving them campaign contributions."
Rendell was joined on the platform by Deputy U.S. Transportation Secretary John D. Porcari, a former Maryland transportation chief who was making a homecoming appearance.
Porcari delievered a somewhat milder version of Rendell's exhortation to invest, saying tthat previous generations of Americans invested heavily in the infrastructure we are using today.
"We're not leaving the same legacy to our children and grandchildren," he said.