tv Washington Journal Diana Furchtgott- Roth Joseph Kane CSPAN March 30, 2021 6:38pm-7:16pm EDT
subcommittee hearing is tonight at nine eastern. tomorrow, we will take you live to pittsburgh to hear from president biden on his economic plan, including infrastructure spending across the country. our live coverage begins wednesday afternoon at 4:20 eastern on c-span. you can also watch online at c-span.org. or, listen on the free c-span radio app. >> millions of dollars they spent on that lovely railway in california. and it went nowhere. so, please explain to me how this is supposed to be better? it is more of a punishment for people that drive their vehicle. then people that don't. guest: the first question on the
gas tax, there is a federal gas tax. so, the past quarter-century, our infrastructure needs have changed a bit. our revenue sources have not. over time, there is more money pulled from the general fund. it is just not a sustainable strategy. the federal gas tax is outmoded, unable to keep up with our prevailing demand, let alone a vaulting and new demand the system is facing. states actually control their own gas taxes. we have seen, they don't have the luxury to wait. states and locality have an clearest their own overtime. to keep ahead of these parents. we have seen a lot of action at a state and local level that has not been visible to some people, as much as there has been action at a federal level. in terms, the second question was why did it not work well last time and how can it be different this time?
i would say build back better as a campaign slogan, whether it be from a governing principle or not, it can't just be about building more. it is to be about building differently. maybe even building less. this is all going back to what are we doing here, what are the objectives? i would argue we did not have clear objectives of the last stimulus or other efforts. hopefully, as i am following with the president will be talking about tomorrow and certainly coming up on the hill and elsewhere, is what is the vision? what are the objection -- the objectives, what are we trying to do? host: when he adds that with a tweet from steve who says i have a gas guzzler. with the gas going up to one dollar per gallon, it has been $.19 per gallon for over 20 years. show some backbone, congress.
guest: i have a gas guzzler, too. i have a 2000 4g. there is nothing to prevent individual states from raising this gas tax and using that to fund their whole row. many states have raised the gas taxes. to go back to the previous question, rail worked well in europe because it is a small, densely populated collection of countries. it is not so economical here in the united states, outside of the northeast corridor. rail does not attract the ridership and the revenue it needs to be sustainable. people either fly at long distances or go on their own vehicle. so, multitrillion infrastructure packages focused on what people need and a lot of driving that needs to be done. rail does not pay.
caller: this is for mr. kaine, he has a fascinating character. i want to know who is going to pay for all of this. the united states borrowing money from 80 nations in the world at this moment. they are trillions of dollars in debt. you have the people in d.c. thinking that the u.s. is an unending travel and they live very well. this guy i am looking at, he is not in touch with reality. because, even aoc said the original plan was, the hierarchy, the politicians, were planning on running around in planes and all these fancy things. everyone else on the ground either has to walk or take the train. i had been on trains. i don't mind them, but they are not efficient. and you have your problems. i resent the fact that we get
people like this with the head in a bucket who have no idea. host: let me ask you, would you be in favor of raising taxes? guest: i would be in favor of raising taxes to pay off the bills. the people of already created. guest: the fact is, we are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to keep the country operating. this not about gushing more money for the sake of gushing more money. there are challenges in terms of how we are going to generate revenues. it is not going to be within washington. it is, crucially, all across the country, these conversations are happening all the time. every day. certainly, during the pandemic where we have seen a lot of places that have been constrained and do not have the
revenues. from not just transportation but property taxes. there are real challenges right now of paying for infrastructure didn't say nothing of other services. this is a huge challenge. it is easy to pay lip service and say there is a bipartisan priority, we need to do something. this has been talked about for decades. we cannot live, so much of it is not involved. it is all over the country, there are drastic challenges. if there is not action taken in some places, there will be a repeat of what happened in texas, in new orleans, more than 15 years ago. what happened in new york with superstorm sandy. we will be seeing more these issues happening if we did not intentionally take action and find sustainable and durable revenues to pay for these actions. host: a text from russ in california, "we are always promised infrastructure plans
and nothing happens. no president sees it through. same with local politicians that are preaching to the public that they will get potholes fixed. roads paved. the real truth is it never gets accomplished." gary in indianapolis. caller: good morning. i'm calling in regards to actually be involved. i worked for six mayors over the period of my career. a lot of the government leaders have not had the vision to repair. there theory is what you cannot see is not visible. there are so many invisible damages underground. in indianapolis, we had manhole covers being shot out of their position and could have hit some pedestrians or cars. the other thing i would like to comment on -- i have done a lot
of research. i had been retired 25 years. some states are losing up to 500 gallons of water per day with leaking pipes. i do have some ways we could pay for all this infrastructure. but, if you're doing -- if you're going to do it, don't put band-aids on it like potholes. how much money has anyone looked at that has been spent patching manholes when that money could have been used to do the job correctly. my other comment would be paying for the infrastructure. we have so much gold stored in knoxville, tennessee and in kentucky in different areas. why don't we use some of that money? the other would be let's , legalize money in all 50 states and tax it. i have been offered a job in denver, colorado to go and protect where they sell legal marijuana.
$100,000 to $200,000 a day a lot of them are making. they are building vaults and walk in areas they can protect. they cannot put their money in a federal bank or put it in institutions. it is crazy. not only would be be able to control the legal marijuana, we would be able to tax it. this infrastructure if done right is good for the economy. it would create jobs, materials and supplies to do the work. , host: diana furchtgott-roth as you listen to gary what is , your reaction? guest: these problems he described, many are on the local level. the individual utilities are supposed to be responsible for maintaining the gas pipes, electricity lines, the pipes. they get a contract to do that.
it is not the problem for the federal government to fix what goes on in different cities with manhole covers blowing off. what is important is states figure out how to do that. when they get funds, they need to be allocating those. they need to be responsible. if they're not responsible, they will be elected out of office in the next election. the reason i am focused on this is because it is a federal government responsibility. this is not something state and local governments can do. if it goes down, everyone will be blaming washington. washington has provided this service for free and needs to make sure it continues to work. host: phil in california. caller: thank you for taking my call. my question, or comments, is regarding the inconsistency of roads within the country, within
states. in california we travel from county to county. the road may be decent as you cross into another county, then it is not so good. i think the problem is the increase of transportations by big rig trucks, especially during covid. more people are ordering online. but, overall in the last 25 or , 30 years -- i am 80 years old and have lived most of my life in california. the big rig trucks, the things we encounter within our cities and the state, they caused a lot of wear and tear on the roads. maybe we should consider alternative methods of transportation? increase our rail service, maybe smaller trucks but more of them. it is not so heavy. it is a perpetual problem. then in the wintertime and
summer, the threes and file aspect -- the freeze and thaw aspect, it is ongoing. maybe we ought to think about reducing the size of the trucks but may be increase the number of smaller ones. guest: he is right. it is not just individuals driving to school or work, it is freight transportation and trucks, other needs that are not only impacting roads but also our waterways and railways. these are vital conduits for economic activity. it is interstate commerce which is a federal responsibility. the trucks are not just traveling within california but are traveling across state lines and going all over the country. it has created bottlenecks in many places, including our major court centers in los angeles and
major rail centers in chicago. this is not an isolated challenge. it is getting more serious with the rise of e-commerce, amazon, the demand among consumers and producers to have the, seamless access. that will require new ways of looking at transportation systems, that we are not just piling on more activity, but can actually be more proactive in handling these woes. host: diana furchtgott-roth, this is from stephen duncan who says "i think we need to work on our electric grid because our enemies can shut us off." guest: yes. and the electric it is also based on the timing of gps to make everything work.
we need to be focused on the electricity grid, wind and solar are very popular but they do not produce as much energy as natural gas which has made our air so much cleaner. we need to be focusing on efficient energy using the natural gas we have in the u.s. to power that. so we don't get a repeat of what happened in texas and these rolling blackouts in california. host: denny in maryland, go ahead. caller: the future, i think it is kind of bright. have you looked into hyperloop tunnels that elon musk is building? we also have flying taxis coming online pretty soon. also have you looked into
boston's big tunnel? was it successful? i heard it was over budget. i'm afraid if we start pouring money into our infrastructure we will have a lot of waste. in maryland, where i drive, the big thing is hot lanes. those work to reduce traffic. thank you for your time. host: joseph kane you want to take hot lanes and the big dig? guest: he brings up a good point that there is a need for innovation not only in transportation but in all of our infrastructure. a lot of that does come from the private sector. the hot lanes in maryland is with a private partnership and is also in northern virginia. this is an issue that came up during the trump administration
and over the past decade. also, there are resources to be paid for these projects, probably some combination between public and private resources. project delivery is certainly a hot topic. not only in washington but all over the country of how can these projects be delivered. and executed in ways that are more cost-effective and efficient. the purpose of the big dig was to remove the elevated highway slicing through boston's downtown. this is >> a challenge that is hitting many other cities at the moment. new york, san francisco at the moment. these highways are aging and they need to be replaced or torn down. we are going to have this challenge. what do they do with aging assets? do they bury them underground? do they create tunnels? that's cool create huge costs but also opportunities.
host: johnny in texas. caller: i have been in texas almost 50 years and a petroleum company has had five plants here. they offered the state of texas guaranteed they could make roads last either 50 years or hundred years. they would guarantee it. the state of texas said no because it would put too many people out of work. now i can see where we do need it. i hope to god texas and the united states would be interested in purchasing from phillips petroleum company. host: back to the new york times.
in the second part of the presidents infrastructure plan. you heard the press secretary say the president's plan could be unveiled in april. the new york times says the second package focuses on education and programs meant to increase the participation of women in labor force, it extends or makes permanent subsidies for low and middle come americans to buy health insurance and tax credits. what is your reaction to the administration calling this the second part of an infrastructure plan? diana furchtgott-roth, why don't you go first? guest:guest: if people call it infrastructure it makes it more likely to pass. i think that is one reason they're calling it infrastructure. it is not infrastructure, though. free community college sounds good but there is financial aid
for people who do not have funds to go to community college. going to university or community college is a serious business. it should not be free. host: joseph kane. guest: there is physical infrastructure which is a lot of what we have been talking about and you can argue that the extension is social infrastructure which includes schools, hospitals, other community facilities. within a broad conception of infrastructure, you could embitter these issues. i think diana is right, we can't fold in too much into one big package per se. we need to be intentional about these issues. i'm sure that first part of the
package will have more bipartisan appeal. our social infrastructure needs are an extension to that and probably more politically speaking not as bipartisan. host: bernie in louisville, kentucky. caller: hello. good to talk to you. my question is for dr. roth. i live in louisville, kentucky, which is a hundred miles away from cincinnati where the span bridge is. which is probably the poster child for kate infrastructure in the country. we also have our own bridge in louisville. which, they are steel bridges, double-decker, they don't have emergency lanes. they are really inefficient.
my question is you are talking about aging materials out there that were being developed or were not being used. are you speaking of "super pave." i work in a laboratory at a university that will go on name at this moment. i spent a lot of time with engineers all day and we are always talking about "super pave." if there is one thing that we have developed in this country that has proved transportation that is it. i want your thoughts on that. guest: that is one of the materials. there were teams that were developing many different types of strong paving. i would ask them why we still have potholes and why is this not on the road? why do i still have potholes after a snowstorm?
my interest is in what the material is. it was explained to me the initial cost was so high that states and governments could not put it on. they would rather put the same old less-expensive material on. that seems shortsighted and apolitical problem we need to solve. host: joseph kane, i want you to enter this question from one of our viewers who tweets "i believe there are many flint, michigans happening silently across america, particularly in minority communities. i stopped drinking tap water decades ago. once i found out there are traces of medications in the top water systems. what is the state of our water infrastructure and how much money is needed to improve it?" guest: that is a hugely important issue and something we take for granted when it comes
to turning on our faucet. it is not just drinking water concerns. certainly, we think of lead pipe removal in the case of flint and older cities and communities. it is also wastewater and stormwater needs. it is no accident that there is a lot of flooding in some communities because the way we have developed land for several years. there's nowhere for water to go. it is a variety of natural and physical challenges that are environmental in nature and getting more extreme and costly. these are issues that are no accident in communities like flint where the infrastructure challenges are inexplicably tied to economic challenges. there has to be the capacity to invest. it is not just the federal government but also states and localities.
do local officials have the revenues to make these investments? in the cases of places like flint that have seen population loss, have seen job declines, there has not been that capacity to invest in these water systems. these are significant challenges that are all across the country. they're going to require new ways of talking about infrastructure needs so that they are more visible to more people. and measuring and evaluating them in ways that make sense. versus just reacting and not making the investments. host: rick in providence, kentucky. caller: wasn't it eight or nine years ago that we had the obama-biden infrastructure plan and the signs went up all over the country about the shovel ready jobs and everything? what did we get for that
trillion dollars? guest: we certainly got from infrastructure but the projects cannot be shovel ready right away. many of them cannot. because it takes regulatory approval to actually do the job, to find the people to do it, you need contracts and acquisitions. it needs to be well thought out which is another reason for doing it at the state and local level. to go back to flint, michigan, state and local officials need to be held accountable for different infrastructure projects. when washington send his funds back, they need to have as few line items as possible. state and local officials have flexibility to use the funds. they don't need public transit
in a large rural area such as kansas. they can use those funds to proof the water system or some other project that state legislators should think is most helpful and needed in the community. host: marie in castlewood, virginia. caller: i think each state should take up its own infrastructure money. federal needs to take up for federal only. like the congressman in georgia said, they were giving back 11% less then what had been picked up in their state of this money. i don't think it is up to people in georgia or virginia to pay for infrastructure. in california, if they want railroads and tunnels, talk about flint michigan -- flint, michigan. the reason flint had trouble was the twit was built for nearly 2 million people. there only like 650,000 million
people living there right now. so they are charging more for their water. flint cut off from the detroit water on account of that. each state should be responsible for taking up its own money. that way, the people in the state would decide to do with this money and how much gas tax needs to go on any state to take care of it. i don't think another state should be helping another state. host: joseph kane? guest: there is a federalist -- federalist responsibility to pay for and manage infrastructure. while it is a primarily state and local parity, there are certain issues like in terms of interstate commerce, that is a federal responsibility. there are certain federal rules here. we are a collection of many different localized infrastructure needs and infrastructure priorities and
strategies. i think the caller is right in the sense that we need to question how we have perhaps paid for some of these projects over time. what are going to be the new types of collaborations and tools to cover some of these needs? we really need to consider all options in front of us versus relying on the same prevailing model that is not done enough for us. that will require forward thinking leadership and also testing and and experimenting with different ways. host: mary in carolina -- in north carolina. caller: hello. i would like to talk about infrastructure on the roads and highways and secondary roads. there was a man who called that
said something about making a better product for roads. i think he is exactly right. i don't think it would be too expensive. i go to visit my mother every day. there is one road i drive on where they are building homes. that road has been paved and had potholes in it that are so deep you would lose your tire in it. it has been repaved 10 times. host: to both of you, talk and a little bit more about climate change and having a plan that deals with climate change? what is that look like? guest: we need a proactive plan
that works around environmental extremes but also our chronic. environmental problems it is -- our chronic environment problems. it is not just about hurricanes and problems like in texas. the daily flooding communities are experiencing, the heat in the summer's, higher levels of precipitation in communities. when we talk about climate, it can't just be one-off events. it is also systemic to how we should be talking about and planning around infrastructure so it is more cost-effective. it can adapt to these needs over time in addition to perhaps mitigating the worst impacts to come which is where a lot of our energy issues come into play.
infrastructure policy is climate policy. it is not a separate conversation. the ways in which we build our land how much we drive, how much water we use -- those all have a direct role to play and how we manage our climate. host: diana furchtgott-roth, your thoughts? guest: gps is essential to climate change, we need to measure what is going on. gps is used to measure the ice levels in antarctica, used to level soil moisture. it is used to measure different signs of climate change. this is another example of providing and preserving gps. in terms of climate change and
infrastructure, we need roads that have good paving, we need to give incentives to state and local governments to put more durable paving materials in. we need to make sure our electricity grid is sufficiently charged with enough energy, natural gas, enough energy that it won't go down in major storms we have. look at resilience, look at puerto rico after a hurricane, the solar panels look like -- and the wind turbines look like spaghetti. there is contradiction and what we're trying to do with renewable energy and making our energy grid resilient against major climate events. we need to be thinking about how to do that. host: let's hear from tim in wisconsin.
caller: i would like to say that i think we need a lot of infrastructure work. i worked on a bridge in mississippi because it collapsed on i-35. up in minneapolis. we can't just keep hating these bridges over because they are old. i hope they federally mandate a wage so states where workers are making very little and pay very little income tax also have to contribute to pay for all of this. there are a lot of welfare states taking a lot more than they are paying in. it is like a 4-1 ratio. the wages have been solo. i would like to see the wages be
mandated that they have to pay a federal living wage for this work. host: i'm going to have joseph kane have the final thought. if you could talk about the grade given to the u.s. about the american society of civil engineers, they grayed out -- they grayed infrastructure. the latest grade is c minus. what are the priorities for infrastructure? what needs to be done first? guest: there is an element to looking back as to what our infrastructure can't do, what the prevailing challenges are around maintenance of some of our aging transportation and water assets. but also the need to make larger capital upgrades in our energy systems and telecommunication systems in rural areas and urban areas. it is about acknowledging what some of our prevailing challenges are but also looking forward as to what our
infrastructure can do. how can it be a foundation to our economy, to our environment? also, to all of us? my colleagues and i have looked quite a bit that with those priorities should be. not only in terms of environmental issues, technological issues, workforce issues, and these fiscal issues we have been talking about for the past hour of how are we going to provide those durable, reliable revenues to pay for all of this. these are big generational investments that should not be taken lightly. there are going to be ongoing conversations and hopefully this policy window does not rush something out the door but can create the durable change we desperately need. host: joseph kane, diana furchtgott-roth, thank you for your time this morning. guest: thank you.
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