‘60 Minutes’: Disaster Looms, U.S. Must Raise Taxes by ‘Hundreds of Billions’

CBS show won’t ask Obama why he didn’t spend more on transportation.

The Obama administration has already wasted nearly $1 trillion of stimulus money that was supposed to go toward “shovel ready” construction projects and create millions of jobs. Now special interest says it needs “hundreds of billions of dollars” more to prevent an infrastructure catastrophe.

CBS’s “60 Minutes” claimed in a segment on Nov. 23 that the federal government needed to increase taxes, especially the gas tax, by billions of dollars to fund supposedly vital transportation projects. By doing so, the popular news magazine show followed the broadcast news networks’ long-standing practice of supporting massive spending increases favored by the transportation industry.

During the 14-minute segment, correspondent Steve Kroft did not interview any current officials from the Obama administration to ask why more was not being spent on transportation projects. Kroft also missed the opportunity to find out why the president spent only 3 percent of the $830 billion stimulus package on creating “shovel ready jobs.” Instead, the story focused on portraying infrastructure across the country as “dangerous” and in desperate need of more taxpayer dollars. 

Ray LaHood, Secretary of Transportation during President Barack Obama’s first term, said the country’s infrastructure was “falling apart” and was “on life support.” He blamed this problem on “politicians in Washington” who disagree with raising taxes by billions of dollars to pay for improvements, saying they lacked “political courage.”

“They don't want to spend the money. They don't want raise the taxes. They... They don't really have a vision of America the way that other congresses have had a vision of America,” LaHood said.

During the segment, Kroft interviewed five individuals who agreed that the national transportation system required increased funding. Yet Kroft did not interview Anthony Foxx, the current Secretary of Transportation, nor did he interview anyone in the Obama administration about why more has not been spent on transportation.

Kroft also failed to mention how Obama dedicated only 3 percent of the funds from the massive stimulus package, passed in February 2009, to infrastructure. This was despite stimulus funds being touted as going toward “shovel ready” construction projects.

The stimulus bill represented $830 billion in spending. Dedicating the majority of this sum to transportation projects would easily have exceeded the $300 billion in tax breaks which Obama later asked congress to approve for improvements in infrastructure.

Richard Trumka, president of AFL-CIO, said during the report that 35,000 jobs are created for every $1 billion in transportation spending.

If true, this claim raises even greater questions about why the Obama administration did not dedicate more stimulus funds to infrastructure, since $830 billion would have created 29,050,000 jobs according to Trumka’s calculations. Yet, the Obama administration’s most optimistic claims were that 3.6 million jobs would be created by the stimulus spending.

Instead of gaining jobs, the U.S. economy actually lost over 2.4 million jobs during the 18 months following passage of the stimulus bill. In November 2009, David Goldman wrote that “stimulus may have created or saved 640,000 jobs so far, but many of these positions were never intended to last.”

Steve Kroft sits on the board of directors for the Center for Public Integrity, which has receive $3.2 million from liberal billionaire George Soros.