If Mitt Romney the President reverts back to the positions of Mitt Romney the Governor, transportation policy in America could see significant steps forward. Better-maintained roads. Smarter growth. Cleaner air.
But if Mitt Romney the President follows through on the rhetoric of Mitt Romney the Campaigner, it will be a different story.
Not that candidate Romney has talked much about transportation. But he’s made it clear he’s casting his lot with the fossil fuel industry. He’s brought billionaire oil man Harold Hamm into his inner circle as an energy advisor, pushing for more drilling. Romney has raised $11.4 million directly from the energy sector, and far more than that has been poured into anti-Obama, pro-drilling TV ads by oil companies.
What did the oil industry get for their generosity? For starters, Romney’s energy plan reads like a parody of desperate political pandering to Texas oil barons. Maximum drilling is paramount. Reducing oil consumption is a quaint little notion for liberals and sweater-wearers. To candidate Romney, the idea of reversing climate change and slowing the rise of the oceans is a laugh line – a joke that suddenly doesn’t seem so funny to people living by the New Jersey and New York coastline.
Romney is now the standard-bearer for a Republican Party whose platform accuses President Obama of engaging in “social engineering” in pursuit of “an exclusively urban vision of dense housing and government transit.” The GOP platform indulges in Agenda 21 paranoia and doesn’t talk much about renewable energy or fuel efficiency. It brags about the worst parts of the recently-passed transportation bill, revives old calls for the privatization of Amtrak services, and cheers on highway-builders.