WatchSonoma Watch

GUEST OPINION: Let’s take poison pills out of transportation bill and get working again


While accepting the Democratic Party’s nomination for president in 1932, Franklin D. Roosevelt pledged to our nation and himself a New Deal for the American People.

Mike Thompson

At the time, America was facing some of the Great Depression’s darkest days. Infrastructure investments were the centerpiece of the New Deal because these investments were one of the strongest jump-starts for a struggling economy. Americans from all corners of our country were put to work modernizing our roads and bridges.

Nearly 80 years later, our nation is once again faced with high unemployment and slow economic growth. And once again we need bold investments to rebuild our nation’s crumbling infrastructure. The best way to get our economy moving again is to put Americans back to work fixing our roads, schools and bridges.

This isn’t a Republican priority or a Democratic priority. It’s an American priority. As House Majority Leader Eric Cantor recently said, job creation is the most important priority facing our country as a whole. However, the majority leader and his party have kicked the can down the road, not once, but twice in the last year, refusing to pass long-term legislation that will fund transportation projects — instead passing very short-term extensions.

Now that a vote is expected on long-term legislation that would fund surface transportation projects, the House majority has filled the bill with poison pills.

Their bill halts funding for high-speed passenger rail projects. It opens up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska for oil drilling. It ends important competitive grant funding for road improvements, port upgrades, bridge maintenance and light rail. It defunds bike and pedestrian projects. It ends funding that is used to build safer routes to schools. And it would allow for the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline though an environmentally sensitive area before environmental reviews are complete.

Our national infrastructure earns a grade of D from the American Society of Civil Engineers. We cannot keep playing political games while jobs and infrastructure are at stake. We must pass a bill that is free of these poison pills so we can get construction projects moving and put folks back to work. We did this in 2005 by an overwhelming vote of 412-8. Now it is time to come together and do it again.

For every $1 billion invested in transportation, more than 30,000 jobs are created. A transportation bill free of poison pills would invest more than $300 billion in our roads and bridges, meaning we could create more than nine million jobs.

Our local communities will feel the positive economic impact of a bi-partisan transportation bill.

In Sonoma County, Highway 101 widening and bridge maintenance would create more than 9,000 jobs.

In Solano County, by updating the I-80/680/12 interchange, we can create 1,350 jobs. In Lake County, improvements to Highway 29 would create 900 jobs.

In Napa County, updating the 1st Street/Highway 29 intersection would create more than 500 jobs. And in Mendocino County, finishing the second phase of the Willits bypass would create more than 1,800 jobs.

Hard-working families across our district are looking for a fair shake. They want jobs. They want to get to work. And they want to know that if they work hard and play by the rules, then they will be able to put food on the table and gas in their car, make their mortgage payment, send their kids to college and save for retirement.

When FDR accepted the presidential nomination in 1932, folks across our county knew that making this fair shake a reality meant committing to shared responsibility — if we shared in the responsibility of building a great nation then we would share in the success of a great nation.

We made that commitment then. I know we can do it again. It’s time to put partisan politics aside and work across the aisle to make that fair shake a reality. No more political games or poison pills. We need to get America working again for the folks who work for a living — and creating jobs by rebuilding our schools, roads and bridges is the best way to make that happen.

Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, represents the 1st District in the U.S. House of Representatives.

14 Responses to “GUEST OPINION: Let’s take poison pills out of transportation bill and get working again”

  1. zuma says:

    We pay a tax on every gallon of gas we buy and have done so as long as most of us can remember! We have been paying to keep our infrastructure up all our lives!

    But democrats want to give those funds to welfare recipients, unemployed for 100 or more weeks, free health care for illegals, free education for illegals, free food stamps for illegals, in addition to forcing insurance plans on employers that permit the killing of unborn children and contraceptive devices to every women.

    Is it no wonder our roads and infrastructure, our schools and everything else goes to hell!~ Get rid of democrats and we may solve the problem!

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  2. Lo Sbandato says:

    Funny how he starts out referring to the New Deal, then just skips past arguing that it worked (it didn’t) and just starts explaining why we should try a failed approach again.
    He does say infrastructure ‘investments’ (a ridiculous euphemism for ‘spending’) “were one of the strongest jump-starts for a struggling economy” but doesn’t bother to offer any proof, because there is none. In fact, since the Depression lasted for nearly 9 years, it’s obvious no “jump start” ever happened, until those bombs fell on Pearl Harbor.

    If these “investments” create jobs (marginal costs be damned), then it’s only right ask, where is the financing coming from? That’s right, the abused to the breaking point taxpayer. What is being created is a new transfer payment system. No new economic activity is being started, it’s just re-stirring the same old pot.

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  3. Canthisbe says:

    “The funding streams for SMART and the county road maintenance budgets are different”.

    No, they’re not. Both come from the taxpayers in Sonoma County and the Tooth Fairy.

    See http://www.watchsonomacounty.com/2011/12/transportation/north-bay-transportation-projects-receive-new-scrutiny/

    “Planners for Sonoma County expects its share to be $967 million in funds from 2015 to 2040. They propose spending $267.8 million for a SMART extension from Santa Rosa to Cloverdale, $200 million for widening Highway 101 in the Narrows and $95 million in bikeways”.

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  4. Steveguy says:

    Did he say 60,000 jobs per $Billion ?

    Fact check that, versus the ‘stimulus funds’…


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  5. john bly says:

    Congressman Thompson is spot on, but I am not sure he knows why. I say that because both parties need to stop putting earmarks on bills that make them unrecognizable. Let’s address each issue on its own merits. If we want to vote on infrastructure dollars going to make our bridges safe,than vote on that without putting an earmark on it for funding a study on protecting the Delta Smelt. Just sayin’—-

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  6. John Reed says:

    “Reality Check: SMART not related to county roads”

    Enough of this intentional ideological canard. The funding streams for SMART and the county road mainatnenance budgets are different. Nice Rovian touch to try to tie together two unrelated hot button issues. This kind of deep dishonesty and preference for Fox-style private ‘facts’ is one of the best reasons to never let these dangerous and duplicitous right-wing characters like Jim Judd to ever seize the keys of power. God spare us.

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  7. GAJ says:

    Didn’t Obama promise to invest in infrastructure at the start of his term with “shovel ready” jobs?

    What happened to that idea when the Democrats controlled Washington?

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  8. Jim says:

    Hilarious that the language is “invest” in democrat projects like high-speed rail and road. That is just rhetoric for SPENDING. That is ALL the Democrats do…spend, spend, spend.

    He talks bad about the Keystone Pipeline project, which is CONSTRUCTION (a loved area for Democrats) and would “put gas in the car” at a cheaper price since it would be oil NOT controlled by OPEC.

    Then he goes into more Democrat rhetoric…”Hard-working families across our district are looking for a fair shake…And they want to know that if they work hard and play by the rules, then they will be able to put food on the table and gas in their car, make their mortgage payment, send their kids to college and save for retirement..”

    He wants to “put partisan politics aside” but bad-mouths ALL Republican supported projects (Keystone, drilling) and talks up Democrat supported projects (ones that ARE NOT AFFORDABLE). This while straight Democrat-talking-points column is PARTISAN.

    ALL of the things mentioned are available to EVERYONE, without GOVERNMENT involvement. Government involvement IS the problem. There are jobs available in the US. The problem is the government handouts make people stationary rather than mobile. Think about the expansion west…people saw opportunity, picked up and moved west. Now, with no opportunity in their backyard, people sit idly by and collect a government handout. There are thousands of jobs available in North Dakota because of the oil drilling. McD’s is paying $12/hour there because there are no people. Supply & Demand. Yet because people can just keep getting money for nothing, they sit and watch their HDTVs while complaining that there aren’t any jobs.

    One last point…”play by the rules” is an often repeated Obama saying. This comes from the same people who have been trading on insider information for decades. The same people who put Martha Stewart IN JAIL for insider trading. Who isn’t playing by the rules here??

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  9. Follower says:

    What a moron! We BORROWED all the money to do that because we could… THEN!
    We didn’t have a 14 trillion dollar debt back then YOU IDIOT!

    And all that BORROWING sparked off the economic mess we have today!


    How does this guy manage to brush his teeth in the morning and WHO KEEP VOTING FOR THIS FOOL??!!

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  10. Money Grubber says:


    The full time legislature has proven itself, once again, to be pointless.

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  11. NoQuarters says:

    Mr Thompson
    why did Obama veto keystone and the Repubs are pushing to get this through?
    could you tell me how many pipelines we have in this country now?

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  12. Reality Check says:

    Thompson’s opposition to “poison pills” in bills would be more credible if Democrats didn’t do the very same thing. Still, it’s a bad habit both parties need to break.

    Thompson and Democrats had a golden opportunity to pass an infrastructure bill in 2009. Instead, they dedicated about 10% to infrastructure and the rest went as giveaways to political allies, mostly public employees. After almost $5 trillion in new debt, the argument for a new round of spending makes sense only to the slowest of learners. $1.2 trillion in new debt each year isn’t enough!

    Not even America, land of the free and home of the brave, can forever live beyond its means. But, I guess we’re going to give it a try.

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  13. Sitting By the Intersection says:

    Obama and the Sonoma County Board of Stupidvisors are sending two messages. Obama and the democrats talk about rebuilding our roads, while the Board of Stupidvisors have decided to let 1500 miles or so of our roads go back to gravel and dirt.

    Which is it? The local polticians want transportation money redirected to their little pet project called SMART. This is coming at the expense of the roads, highways and bridge repairs.

    Sonoma County roads and the roads and streets in our cities and towns are in terrible condition. The state legislature and local governments will not allocate the funds for a proper road repair and maintenance program because they want their train project which will accomplish nothing but waste transportation money on a total boondoggle.

    It is the Obama administration that has stopped the Canadian oil pipe line bringing thousands of construction jobs to the U.S.

    If the Obama administration and the democrats are serious about building roads and creating construction jobs all they have to do is vote yes. But that is asking too much for an administration that is joined at the hip with the environmental lobbyists and lawyers.

    Nothing has stopped congressmen like Thompson from speaking out of both sides of their mouths. They are against things before they are for them. So what’s new in Washington?

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  14. NoQuarters says:

    Franklin D. Roosevelt and the rest of the country did not have to deal with EPA, Water Resource Board, EIRs, wildlife foundation, wilderness federation, sierra club, Tides foundation.
    hey Thompson have a look at what Canada did, thay knew they were running out of money for the walfare programs, LIKE OBAMACARE. HAVE A LOOK, THEY HAD A BIG LAND RUSH ABOUT WHAT 10 YEARS AGO.Opps sorry
    would you like to know for what,when and where?

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