WASHINGTON, August 5—The U.S. highway trust fund is broke, unaccountable spending undermines long-term strategic priorities, and infrastructure is crumbling. Failure to reform the transportation system risks deepening U.S. dependence on oil, adding to climate change, and eroding economic competitiveness. Waiting to make real improvements only drives up future costs whereas responsible policies can improve transportation and reduce the national deficit today.

The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace today announced a new leadership initiative to develop a non-partisan solution for financing a better transportation system in the United States. Former U.S. Senator Bill Bradley, former Pennsylvania Governor and Secretary for Homeland Security Tom Ridge, and former U.S. Comptroller General and now president of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation David Walker, will lead an intensive analysis to find politically realistic measures to fix what is now a broken transportation system.

Recommendations will be prepared for consideration by both Congress and the President’s Fiscal Responsibility and Reform Commission.

Making the announcement, Bradley said:

“People think transportation finance is about ‘bridges to nowhere,’ and that transportation congestion is a condition to be endured, not a problem to be solved. But there are better, greener, and more fiscally prudent transportation solutions just around the corner. Finding those solutions is the purpose of this initiative.”

Ridge said:

“The disaster in the Gulf of Mexico is a powerful reminder that oil is the primary fuel that drives our economy and that it will likely be decades until we find alternatives that can reduce our dependence upon it. Oil is the fuel of choice in our transportation system and we collect taxes from users to finance the infrastructure. With 70 percent of the oil consumed in America flowing into our gas tanks, transportation energy and financing are clear national economic and environmental priorities.”

Walker said:

“When this nation set out in 1956 to build a national defense highway system, we did so on a pay-as-you-go basis. We now keep that system functional through deficit spending and mortgaging the future of our children and grandchildren without adequately addressing our related congestion, energy dependency, and environmental challenges. Our current approach is unacceptable, unsustainable, and unethical. It’s time for a change.”

Jessica Mathews, president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, added:

“The urgency of this issue has never been more apparent. In keeping with Carnegie’s longstanding work on global challenges—notably among them the threat of climate change—we are looking to break the political stalemate and rethink U.S. transportation policies. Under the direction of three distinguished leaders—Bradley, Ridge, and Walker—this initiative will look for the best ways for the United States to, at the same time, reduce its dependence on oil, lower its carbon emissions, cut the national deficit, and improve a faltering transportation system.”

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ABOUT

  • The Leadership Initiative on Transportation Solvency will develop a non-partisan solution for financing an improved and self-sustaining transportation system in the United States. Under the leadership of three distinguished political figures, the initiative will conduct an analysis of strategies to fund America’s transportation system that are politically realistic but also serve to make transportation better, greener, and more fiscally sound.

LEADERS

  • William W. Bradley is a managing director of Allen & Company LLC. Bradley served in the U.S. Senate from 1979–1997, representing the state of New Jersey. He was a senior advisor and vice chairman of the International Council of JP Morgan & Co., Inc. from 1997–1999. During that time, he also worked as an essayist for CBS evening news and was a visiting professor at Stanford University, University of Notre Dame, and the University of Maryland. From 2001–2004, he acted as chief outside advisor to McKinsey & Company’s nonprofit practice.
  • The Honorable Thomas J. Ridge is president and CEO of the international consulting firm Ridge Global, headquartered in Washington, DC. He served as the nation’s first secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security from January 2003 through January 2005, and as the assistant to the president for Homeland Security from October 2001 through December 2002. Previously, he was governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania from 1995 through October 2001 and a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1983 through 1995.
  • The Honorable David M. Walker is president and CEO of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation. Prior to assuming his position with the Foundation in March of 2008, Walker served as the seventh Comptroller General of the United States and head of the U.S. Government Accountability Office for almost ten years. This was one of his three presidential appointments each by different presidents from both major political parties during his 15 years of total federal service.

STAFF

  • David Burwell is director of the Energy and Climate Program at the Carnegie Endowment. His work focuses on the intersection between energy, transportation and climate issues, and policies and practice reforms to reduce global dependence on fossil fuels.
  • Shin-pei Tsay is the director of the Leadership Initiative on Transportation Solvency. Prior to joining the Carnegie Endowment, she served as deputy director of Transportation Alternatives, one of the leading non-profit advocacy organizations in the United States, where she provided strategic direction and overall management of the staff and organization.

NOTES

  • The Carnegie Energy and Climate Program aims to provide leadership in global energy and climate policy. The program integrates thinking on energy technology, environmental science, and political economy to reduce risks stemming from global change and competition for scarce resources.
  • Following its century-long practice of changing as global circumstances change, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace is undertaking a fundamental redefinition of its role and mission. Carnegie aims to transform itself from a think tank on international issues to the first truly multinational—ultimately global—think tank. The Endowment has added operations in Beijing, Beirut, and Brussels to its existing centers in Washington and Moscow. These five locations include the two centers of world governance and the three places whose political evolution and international policies will most determine the near-term possibilities for international peace and economic advance.
    More information on the Carnegie Endowment's Global Vision
    .

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