Over the weekend, New Mexico Senator Jeff Bingaman launched a tirade against another state ... Indiana! I say tirade, because it seemed so extremely unusual for a Senator from one state to single out a different state by name for criticism.
The gist of the article was that Indiana (like many other states recently) has turned the operation of parts of its toll roads, including some U.S. Interstates, to a private concern. Bingaman said Indiana was still collecting federal funds intended for the maintenance of the interstate system, but argued such payments should be stopped for roads being operated for profit by a private contractor. Makes sense to me!
Today, not surprisingly, the other shoe dropped. Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels (Republican) responded rather heatedly to Bingaman's charges, suggesting the latter had his facts wrong, his analysis wrong, and maybe even his underwear on wrong.
(I note that although the Governor's reply is long, he doesn't really deal directly with the chief point Bingaman makes, which is that taxpayers all across the country should not be paying money to repair roads in Indiana if a private company has been contracted to do that and is collecting tolls.)
In Dixie, many people still call our Civil War the "War Between the States" (actually, the ones with the aluminum hats still like to call it the "War of Northern Aggression"). Is it possible we'll have a new "war between the states," even though the two states in question aren't in the south, and are not adjacent? It's all very strange.
But as you might suspect, it's only politics -- the product of our continuing logjam in Congress. In play is the federal transportation bill. An article by another Senator, Bob Corker (Republican - Tennessee), back in March, sketches the outlines of the problem, i.e. that Republicans in particular are insisting on a "pay-as-we-go" plan for financing roads and other infrastructure, without any new taxes. If you care to read Corker's item, you'll probably hear, as I did, a couple of words screaming at you from between the lines: "gas tax."
Yes, increasing the gas tax is an obvious answer, but Corker, Daniels, and their their GOP brothers generally ignore that because they have sold their souls and their independence of thought to Grover Norquist, the éminence grise/modern-day Rasputin of Anti-Tax Rabidity.