In the days of machine politics, there was a phenomenon called walking-around money. Ward heelers with cash in their pockets would walk around a precinct and pay bums on the street to go in and vote for the party’s candidates.
Today, that is no longer done. Today, the money is in the hundreds of millions.
The Department of Transportation has announced that a total of $470 million will be handed over to various state governments.
The projects must be approved by October 1.
Nice timing, don’t you think?
The odd thing is that this money was allocated to the Department of Transportation during Bush’s years: 2003 to 2006. Obama says these are part of a package called “we can’t wait.” But Obama’s Administration waited for almost four years.
The money was allocated as “earmarks,” which were pork for Congressional districts. The Republicans in the House subsequently banned these.
Obama has vowed to veto any bill that includes earmarks and has supported efforts by lawmakers in both parties to permanently ban the practice.
But the White House official said money awarded by previous Congresses should be spent to improve the nation’s highways, transit systems and ports. Instead of letting the money sit idle, it should be used to put Americans back to work and repair the nation’s crumbling infrastructure, the official said.
So, the roads will be built. The money will flow. All that states need to do is fill out some forms no later than October 1, 2012.