Saturday, December 09, 2006

Dobbs: if people PA tolerate this there's no end to what they'll tolerate

DOBBS: Controversy tonight over proposals to sell taxpayer- owned-and-paid-for assets to foreign interests. And a new study shows outsourcing jobs has a negative impact on not only American workers, but also on the companies that send their jobs overseas.

Lisa Sylvester reports on the controversy over a proposal to sell part -- part of Pennsylvania's turnpike to private foreign interests.

Bill Tucker reports tonight on two studies that now say outsourcing isn't the long-term answer to -- for American interests.

We begin with Lisa Sylvester.

Lisa, tell us all about it.

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, outsourcing of American jobs, insourcing of foreign labor. And now there is a new trend that state politicians are advancing: selling off American roads.


SYLVESTER (voice-over): The Pennsylvania Turnpike stretches 537 miles. This critical piece of northeast infrastructure may soon go on the auction bloc.

Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell says it's one option the state is considering to plug a $1.7 billion transportation budget hole.

GOV. ED RENDELL (D), PENNSYLVANIA: All of the money that comes from the sale of the turnpike will be put into a fund, and 100 percent of the interest income that that generates will be used for transportation.

SYLVESTER: Proponents say it's an alternative to raising fuel taxes. Critics rip the proposal as shortsighted, saying elected leaders should not be selling off or leasing American assets that belong to the taxpayers.

Adding more fuel to the debate, the leading bidders are foreign companies.

TODD SPENCER, OWNER-OPERATOR, IND. DRIVERS ASSN.: They're auctioning off our roads, they're pawning our roads to the highest bidder worldwide. So, you know, to continue deficit spending. You're darn right it ought to make people angry as it could be.

SYLVESTER: An Australian-Spanish consortium has been quietly snapping up major U.S. highways. In January, the group secured a lease for 99 years of the Chicago skyway for $1.83 billion. In March, the same company convinced Indiana to lease for 75 years the 157-mile Indiana toll road.

That state receives $4 billion up front. The private company pockets future toll revenue but promises maintenance upkeep.

Indiana state representative David Orentlicher is not convinced taxpayers got a good deal.

DAVID ORENTLICHER, INDIANA STATE HOUSE: With a consortium based in Australia and Spain, and that has investors abroad, their concern is going to be with their investment, not with the welfare of people who live in Indiana and who use that toll road.

SYLVESTER: Orentlicher and others also worry states are receiving a windfall in transportation money now. But if the states do not invest that money wisely, where does that leave future generations down the road?


SYLVESTER: Pennsylvania says if it decides to lease or sell the turnpike, there will be limits on how much tolls could be raised, and the company would have to agree to maintenance schedules. But critics question, if a private company can make it profitable to run and maintain these highways, why can't the state governments then do the same thing -- Lou.

DOBBS: This is a remarkable development. It fits in with the utter idiocy that is gripping this nation right now and most of its political leaders. Most. Not all, but most.

The idea that a taxpayer asset paid for by taxpayers, owned by the taxpayers, could be sold to a foreign interest, what right do they have to sell something that belongs to taxpayers?

SYLVESTER: You know, and in many cases the state governments are not going directly to the people. They're not putting this up for a referendum, up for a vote. And when you ask people and explain to them what's been going on, many people are just downright outraged that this is happening.

DOBBS: As they well should be. The fact that this -- and I am -- Governor Rendell is an outstanding governor. For him to get behind this shows you the desperation of the state government in Pennsylvania, it also shows you, in my opinion, the absolute shortsightedness. And if the taxpayers of Pennsylvania put up with this, they frankly deserve whatever they get.

SYLVESTER: Well, they're spending future money for generations to come. I mean, it's just -- even from a fiscal standpoint...

DOBBS: This is -- this is outrageous. And if the people of Pennsylvania tolerate this, there's no end to what they'll tolerate.

No comments: