This report was written by Emily Wilkins of the Hearst Newspapers Washington bureau.
President Barack Obama wants to use funding formerly set aside for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars to upgrade and repair infrastructure. The projects include highway construction, passenger rail and other programs that would bring federal dollars — and jobs — to Connecticut.
Despite the estimated benefits of the $476 billion, six-year program, Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman said he did not approve of allotting funds formerly used to fight overseas to new projects.
“While there are elements in the president’s budget I would support, it does not propose the type of bold entitlement and tax reform that is necessary to substantially reduce the deficit,” Lieberman said in a press release.
“I am especially concerned that the President’s FY13 budget would use $850 billion in supposed savings from the drawdown of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan in order to finance new government spending. These supposed savings are tantamount to an accounting gimmick, and the administration’s proposal would simply result in a larger deficit.”
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said part of the funding for the transportation projects also will come from the Highway Trust Fund, and about half of the “peace dividend” will go toward repaying the debt.
The Department of Transportation’s proposed $128 billion dollar budget — a 62 percent increase from the budget enacted in 2011 –- also includes $2.5 billion dollars for a national high-speed rail proposal. The proposal is part of a six-year, $47 billion investment plan which aims to provide 80 percent of Americans access to a high speed rail in the next 25 years.
Obama also asked Congress to invest more than $1 billion in the Next Generation Air Transportation System, which would use more data from satellites and global positioning systems rather than ground control, revamp the Department’s Pipeline Safety program, and put $20 billion competitive grant program among states to adopt programs to reduce drunk driving and increase seatbelt use.