As someone who often inveighs against the dysfunction Congress, I should tip my hat when they actually, you know…do stuff.
Yesterday, they managed to pass the transportation bill and the student loan extension. From the NYT:
The transportation legislation extends federal highway, rail and transit programs for 27 months, authorizing $120 billion in spending, financed by the existing 18.4 cents-a-gallon gasoline tax and the 24.4 cents-a-gallon diesel tax, as well as about $19 billion in transfers from the Treasury…The $6.7 billion student loan provision extends the current 3.4 percent interest rate on Stafford loans for one year, financed by changes in pension laws and a restriction on the length of time students could get those loans.
Good, necessary bills. But here’s the thing: Tea Party conservatives–who believe they were sent here to block pretty much everything–were unhappy with the bills, but bragged about the following:
Republicans boasted of streamlining environmental review processes for transportation programs and shifting resources away from highway beautification and pedestrian and bike paths.
I get the environmental part but “pedestrian and bike paths”??!! Tea Partiers don’t like a bike ride? A walk around town? I mean, after a while, don’t you wanna shut off Fox and go outside?
Maybe they view this as a “private market” responsibility, but I hope not, because private sources can’t be relied upon to provide such resources—they’re clearly public goods. Maybe they view it as a local responsibility. Or maybe it’s just knee-jerk opposition to anything that sounds suspicious—like taking walks and riding bikes!