Transportation, Bernie Sanders, & why I support Hillary Clinton

So as the election nears and many of my friends ask why I am not supporting Bernie Sanders? The reason is simple: I don’t agree with him a lot of the time.

Now I want universal health care, money out of politics, and wall street reform — but generally even his approach to those issues concerns me in the details. I have learned a lot about politics and government in my 15 years as a professional and what Bernie prescribes often concerns me.

The example I give the most is transportation policy.

To me his transportation policy is an example of a 1980s view of the world. He did some interesting things as mayor including a housing trust that is still in use today — but the old style policy solutions keep cropping up.

When it comes to transportation Bernie’s old solutions works against his own stated goals on climate change and income inequality in other areas. Instead it would hand Republican Governors billions more for TBX like interstate expansions.

So here is his plan:

Here is his press release.

And here is the text of the law.

There are things I love about Bernie’s transportation plans. Like $60 billion for high speed rail between cities and a national infrastructure bank. But in reality it is a essentially a $600 billion increase in the Highway Trust Fund for the next 5 years. That makes it huge handout for sprawl that only takes up 2 pages. It directly conflicts with the goals he states on his website and hands more money to Rick Scott than I ever would vote for anyone to do.

There five main areas of serious issues:

First off: Bernie Sanders spends a trillion dollars in two pages. There is zero focus on changing the way we spend money on transportation, giving cities more control, and zero mention of transit in the entire bill. Instead it’s $75 billion a year spent on the status quo which should explode the heads of my least of one of my least favorite transportation advocates Charles Marohn. I think extreme prescriptions of not spending anymore money on roads before reform is a dumb as spending $75 billion a year on a broken status quo.

Second: Transit is at best an after thought. There is no mention of transit or protecting the mass transit account. There isn’t even the mention of walkable streets or improving alternatives like there is on his website. In fact based on the way legislation reads it would automatically fund highways to the tune of $500 bIllion over 8 years and leave mass transit $93 billion increase. That means half of Bernie’s entire $1 trillion infrastructure program is for highways.

Third: Who gets the highway money? States. Given that most of the states are controlled by Governors like Rick Scott, Scott Walker, and others that have proposed massive increases in typical suburban sprawl this is what this bill empower them to do. No change in priorities or any other concept is included.

Fourth: The rail money in this plan suffers from the same issue. Instead of building a network that makes the most sense we will have a network on the eastern seaboard and another between California and Seatlle. But if you want to get to the third or fourth most populous states in the country you’d have to get past Rick Perry and Rick Scott. Which won’t happen.

Fifth: Overall there is zero focus on reform. While not a lot of politicians are willing to call for reform in highway and transportation spending. It’s something that is vital. I want real spending on infrastructure but that would take not doing the same thing that got us into our infrastructure deficit.

Is Hillary any better?

Yes, her plan actually addresses each of these issues.

Here it is. And here is some more detail.

She includes the bank and increases spending. But she also makes a specific commitment to more transit, specifically calls for reform of how we spend money on transportation, asks for changing the way we evaluate projects for federal funding. There is zero discussion of handing money to Rick Scott for free.

As Vox says “The campaign also indicates a preference for shifting more spending into merit-based competitive grants rather than handing money over to state governments.”

Essentially it’s a similar plan that better fits our modern political, governing, and economic situations. It fits well with her energy policy. Where Sanders plan would literally rip into his.

I do have some bones to pick with Hillary’s plan. There isn’t enough meat on the bones of reform and I would like to see more dedicated transit funding. But it’s way more specific than the actual legislation that Sanders proposed.

Transportation is just one example of Bernie Sanders old style liberal policies running into a brick wall for me. And on this same issue Hillary showing a clear 21st century solutions to problems we face.

Hopefully this helps answer the question. Not arguing you need to agree with me, but wanted to make it clear.