Democrats bristle at Trump infrastructure plans WASHINGTON – Democrats had hoped the one big policy area they could find common ground with President Donald Trump on was infrastructure, but they don’t like what they’re hearing from administration officials about the transportation portion of the plan that’s still in the works.Trump has promised to generate $1 trillion in infrastructure spending over 10 years. With two of his other top campaign pledges in trouble — an effort to repeal and replace the Obama administration health care law has failed so far, and without savings to the government from health care changes there may not be enough money to pay for lowering tax rates — infrastructure appeared to be an area ripe for bipartisan compromise.But some Democrats say they worry that Trump’s plan will focus on trying to entice more private investment in transportation projects and reduce regulations that require environmental reviews and community consultation on projects rather than providing more government money to repair, replace and expand the nation’s transportation network.Reps. Peter DeFazio of Oregon and Eleanor Holmes Norton of the District of Columbia, two top Democrats on the House transportation committee, sent a letter Wednesday to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao objecting to comments she made last week about the failure to fix the nation’s crumbling transportation system.“The problem is not money. It’s the delays caused by government permitting processes that hold up projects for years, even decades, making them risky investments,” Chao said. She reiterated the statement Wednesday in a speech to the American Association of Port Authorities.Congress has already directed the Transportation Department in bills passed in 2012 and 2015 to take dozens of steps to “streamline” regulations holding up projects. A recent report by the department’s inspector general found that work on a majority of the 42 actions required under the 2012 law had been completed, but implementation has been delayed so that the actions can be revised to take into account conflicting or additional requirements of the 2015 law.“Piling additional streamlining measures on top of each other before they can be implemented — and before we can assess their effectiveness — is not going to solve our infrastructure problems,” the lawmakers wrote Chao. “We cannot streamline our way out of a funding shortfall.”A recent report by the Treasury Department identified 40 significant transportation and water projects whose completion has been slowed or is in jeopardy. The report found that “a lack of public funding is by far the most common factor hindering completion of transportation and water infrastructure projects.”Chao, on the other hand, cited a 2015 report by the nonpartisan group Common Good that estimates that delaying road and bridge projects by six years to deal with regulations results in an estimated $427 billion in additional project costs, traffic congestion delays and impact from global warming emissions. The report advocates reducing the permitting process, which can sometimes take up to 10 years, down to two years.DeFazio also complained at a transportation committee hearing that only a very limited number of transportation projects that have natural revenue streams like tolls are attractive to investors. Most of those projects cost at least $1 billion, and investors generally put up only about 10 to 20 per cent of the money, he said. The rest comes from state and local bonds that have to be repaid, or federal aid.Trump’s plan will include ways to boost the role of private investors, Chao said, adding that “investors say there is ample capital available” waiting for projects.DeFazio recommended increasing federal gasoline and diesel taxes by one penny per gallon and after that automatically increasing the tax with inflation to help pay for transportation. Federal fuel taxes haven’t been increased since 1993, although 17 states have increased their fuel taxes in recent years, he said.Chao’s staff notified reporters that she wouldn’t be available for questions after her ports association speech. When Chao left the speech, the association’s staff physically blocked reporters from leaving, citing a request from Chao that people remain in the room until she was out of the area, a security protocol normally reserved for heads of state.But Chao stopped in the hotel lobby to chat with people and pose for photos with on the public sidewalk in front of the hotel. Chao’s spokeswoman Marianne McInerney stepped in front of a reporter for The Associated Press, who was trying to take a photo of the group, blocking the shot. Chao then got into her waiting black SUV and left.___Follow Joan Lowy at http://twitter.com/AP_Joan_Lowy. Her work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/joan-lowy by Joan Lowy, The Associated Press Posted Apr 6, 2017 6:43 am MDT Last Updated Apr 6, 2017 at 11:20 am MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email
BROWSE Boston Bruins | maple leafs | playoffs Tuukka Rask made 32 saves as the Boston Bruins downed the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-1 on Tuesday to win their best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarterfinal 4-3.Sean Kuraly and Joakim Nordstrom, with a goal and an assist each, and Marcus Johansson scored for Boston before Charlie Coyle and Patrice Bergeron both added empty-net goals.John Tavares replied for Toronto. Frederik Andersen stopped 27-of-30 shots.The Bruins have now defeated the Leafs in Game 7 in the opening round of the playoffs three of the last seven seasons, with each clincher coming at TD Garden.Boston also took down Toronto 7-4 last spring, becoming the first team in NHL history to battle back from three deficits of at least one goal to win a Game 7 in regulation. That came five years after the Bruins’ 5-4 overtime victory in 2013 _ the first time a team had won a Game 7 after trailing by three goals in the third period.The crushing result for the Leafs means more heartbreak for a franchise that has failed to advance to the second round of the playoffs since 2004 and has not won the Stanley Cup since 1967.The Bruins will now take on the Columbus Blue Jackets after the conference’s eighth seed swept the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round.That alone makes Tuesday a bitter pill to swallow for the Leafs, with Tampa just one of a number of favourites to have already fallen by the wayside.Toronto was Canada’s last hope of ending a 26-year Cup drought following the elimination of both the Calgary Flames and Winnipeg Jets.The series was a back-and-forth slugfest featuring razor-thin margins. Neither team managed to put together consecutive victories until the Bruins won 4-2 in Game 6 on Sunday to stave off elimination in Toronto before taking Tuesday’s winner-take-all showdown.The Leafs actually started well enough after enduring an early Boston flurry. Rask stopped an Auston Matthews one-timer from the slot and two quick Mitch Marner shots off the rush before the roof caved in.Toronto defenceman Travis Dermott turned the puck over on a clearing attempt and the puck eventually fell to Nordstrom, who squeezed his second of the series between Andersen’s glove and pad on the shortside with 5:31 left in the first as Boston’s fourth line struck.Jake Gardiner — Dermott’s blue-line partner — then inexplicably played the puck off the boards behind his own net to no one in particular. It was quickly scooped up by Johansson, and he wheeled out in front before beating Andersen on a shot off the far post for his first with 2:14 remaining in the period.Gardiner, who missed a chunk of the second half of the season with a back injury, was an ugly minus-5 in last spring’s Game 7 loss to Boston, falling on his sword and taking more than his share of the blame in an emotional exchange with reporters as the cameras rolled.The Leafs responded well to open Tuesday’s second period, with Tyler Ennis separating John Moore from the puck along the boards and finding Tavares, who buried his second beyond Rask’s blocker at 3:54.Toronto kept coming with a number of chances, but Rask denied Ennis and Trevor Moore from in close.A Leafs power play that was just 3 for 14 coming into Game 7 got a chance midway through the period, but despite a wrinkle that saw Matthews and Marner switch sides, were unable to connect.The Bruins came with a push to start the third period, and Kuraly made Toronto pay when stepped around Ron Hainsey in the neutral zone and beat Andersen with his first of the playoffs on a shot over his left shoulder that the Leafs goalie will want back at 2:40.Toronto got its second power play five minutes into the third, but couldn’t do anything with the man advantage.TD Garden then roared its approval as the minutes and seconds ticked down towards another Game 7 victory for the Bruins over their rivals before Coyle made it 4-1 into an empty net.Notes: The Bruins improved to 15-12 in Game 7s, including 14-8 at home. The Leafs dropped to 12-12 (5-11 on the road). … Boston’s 15 victories in Game 7s gives the franchise the NHL’s all-time lead, passing Montreal (14-9) and Detroit (14-11). … Bruins captain defenceman Zdeno Chara played the 13th Game 7 of his career, tying Patrick Roy and Scott Stevens for the most all-time.