Today, Sen. Hatch will introduce a series of amendments to the Highway Investment, Job Creation, and Economic Growth Act of 2012 that pull the problematic Highway Bill in the right direction. Similar to the House’s proposals, Senator Hatch’s amendments would expand domestic oil and natural gas production and streamline construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline.
Full development of America’s natural resources would likely create over a million jobs, increase America’s energy security, and provide a boon to downtrodden communities. Sen. Hatch’s amendments use new revenue that results from increased energy production to pay for the Highway Bill. Conversely, Senator Menendez (D-N.J.) has repackaged his job-killing legislation as an amendment to the Highway Bill. The Menendez bill, now amendment, would stifle investment and arbitrarily punish oil and natural gas producers by repealing standard cost recovery tax deductions.
The other side of the coin is spending. Attempting to remedy the Highway Bill’s price tag, Sen. Hatch introduced two amendments: one that eliminates wasteful spending and another that allows the government to spend more efficiently by eliminating the arcane Davis-Bacon law.
Davis-Bacon is a particularly egregious law that has been nickel and diming taxpayers for 80 years. Ratified in 1931, the Davis-Bacon requires the federal government to pay construction workers inflated wages when working on federal projects. Clung to by labor unions, Davis-Bacon ensures that this small minority of construction workers receive a disproportionate share of government work. Giving Americans a greater bang for their buck, Davis-Bacon repeal would reduce the cost of federal construction projects that adhere to the misbegotten wage scale by 22 percent.
Sen. Hatch’s amendments draw a stark contrast from those being proposed by Senate Democrats. While still deeply flawed, the Senate Highway bill would be measurably better if Sen. Hatch’s Amendments were adopted.