Our Views: Lose politics on dredging

When President Barack Obama hit the road with a message of economic renewal, he struck some themes that just about everyone who’s looked at the American economy can agree with.

“If we don’t make the investments necessary to make America a magnet for good jobs — in education, and manufacturing, and research, and our transportation and information networks — we might as well hit the ‘pause’ button while the rest of the world forges ahead in a global economy,” the president said in his July column that appeared in The Advocate.

Naturally, and not helpfully, part of the president’s message was partisan. He criticized the “posturing” that inhibits debate, and while a lot of people can agree on the ills of Washington, it’s not at all clear that it is only Republicans who posture mightily in the halls of Congress.

However, we think his stress on transportation investments is particularly important, and it opens up an arena for bipartisan cooperation in public works that don’t cost the government any more in new taxes.

That is in the area of rivers and harbors.

The Louisiana delegation, on a bipartisan basis, has pushed for more investment in dredging and other maintenance of our port complex. Our geographical location makes that an obvious priority for Louisiana.

Further, it doesn’t cost any American more in taxes. An existing fee on shipping now fills a trust fund in the Treasury, but some of that money lies untapped. Just using the full amount of the fees collected every year would go a long way.

U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany, R-Lafayette, is among the bipartisan group across the nation pushing for these projects. He was disappointed in the president’s position in his proposed budget: “They bumped it up, but not sufficiently,” Boustany said in a meeting with editors of The Advocate.

If the president wants a no-posturing, low-cost “win” for the United States in the global economy, we don’t doubt that the Louisiana delegation — among others — can help him get it with bigger investments in port maintenance and expansion.