Following President Obama’s re-election victory, an article in the Wall Street Journal made a very interesting point: After roughly $6 billion in election campaign spending and some 1.2 million political advertisements in the presidential contest alone, we’re pretty much right back where we started, with President Obama in the White House, the Democrats with narrow control of the U.S. Senate and the Republicans handily controlling the U.S. House of Representatives.
The ironic piece of all this is that the problems the country is facing– especially high unemployment, sluggish economic growth, runaway federal deficits of $1 trillion per year, and an impending “fiscal cliff” of tax increases and severe spending cuts – remain in place as well.
That’s before you add in the foreign policy worries, such as Syria’s ever-escalating civil war, the Iranian efforts to build nuclear weapons, and the potential for more terrorist attacks such as the one in Benghazi, Libya, that killed our ambassador there along with members of his security team.
And as always, looming in the background, lurks the nation’s massive debt load – $16 trillion and counting at this moment in time, which is now more than our country’s yearly gross domestic product (GDP).
The transportation industry as a whole moves into the post-election period facing many issues of its own, the first and foremost being how to generate sufficient revenues to maintain and expand our highway, bridge, port, and other critical freight infrastructure.
Indeed, Jack Basso at the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) told me earlier this morning that filling what he calls the “revenue gap” will pose a very vexing problem for both the Obama administration and Congress moving forward.
Many in the trucking industry may be bemoaning Obama’s re-election victory simply because it means many regulatory initiatives launched over the last four years – particularly hours of service (HOS) reform – won’t be slowed down or even reversed as many hoped might occur if Gov. Mitt Romney had won last night.
However, Eric Starks – president of research firm FTR Associates – told me several weeks back that such regulatory efforts are rarely rolled back or reversed, and that HOS and other mandates, such as for electronic onboard recorders (EOBRs), would continue moving forward regardless of which party won the White House in this election.
All of that means simply that America still faces a rough road ahead. But one thing we shouldn’t forget is that this nation of ours has found itself in many a tough spot before, yet came out better and stronger in the end. That’s what will sustain my confidence as we begin tackling all those problems in the weeks and months to follow.