Washington Insider
As annoying as it may be …

By Mike Joyce
OOIDA senior government affairs representative


As annoying as it may be …

You know that ad on television for Head-On, the headache relief medicine? Yes, the annoying ad that repeats the line, “Head-On, apply directly to the forehead” three times in rapid succession. Annoying isn’t it?

Well, annoying as it may be, according to some sources, sales of the product have gone up more than 234 percent because of the unique and repetitive advertising campaign. Not sure if the product works, but it sure has grabbed the attention of a lot of people.

As with the repetitive Head-On commercial, I know you are getting tired of hearing us use certain terms and names in Land Line, on the Web and on “Land Line Now.”  

Those terms and names probably include: tolling; public-private partnerships (PPPs); truck-only lanes; fuel taxes; Goldman Sachs; Gov. Corzine; “greenfields;” Macquarie; Cintra; Gov. Rendell; congestion pricing; Mitch Daniels; Indiana Toll Road; Trans-Texas Corridor; indexing; New Jersey; “brownfields;” PA I-80; vehicle miles traveled (VMT); Highway Trust Fund; DOT; T&I Committee; Senate Commerce; Senate EPW; Chairman Oberstar; Secretary Peters; and the list goes on.

To a certain extent it is like the Head-On commercial – annoying, repetitive and, for some of you, numbing.

There is good news, though.

First, we are on the right side of the highway funding debate, and repeating our message is working. Second, in the near future you may not hear as much from some of the individuals listed above.

For instance, the secretary of transportation will be departing within the next year. And it is likely that her underlings will move on to greener pastures and reappear in positions supporting private sector initiatives. However, they will have less influence on public policy – policy that the public has begun to receive less enthusiastically.

Finally, Rep. James Oberstar, the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, has a good grasp of our concerns with tolling and PPPs and he will most likely write the next highway bill.

The bad news is that many of the words I mentioned earlier will continue to be with us for the foreseeable future. We wish that wasn’t the case, but with the reauthorization of the next highway bill coming in 2009-2010, you will continue to hear most of these terms. It is just going to be a fact of life. I apologize in advance for any inconvenience, but in the end I think you will be proud to be a part of our team effort because it will mean a great deal to your bottom line in the future.

So what will be the solution to our infrastructure problems? It will depend on who is in power, but it will probably be a mix of ideas.

Our job is to aggressively demonstrate the impact that certain public policy initiatives have on professional, small-business truckers, and to minimize decisions that could damage your business.

OOIDA has a solid highway funding policy; a policy that highlights the tremendous contribution you make to the Highway Trust Fund. We deserve, expect, must fight for, and demand public policy that reflects this tremendous sacrifice and contribution.

Through your patience, reading, listening and follow-up activities of calling, letter writing, attending events and educating lawmakers, we are having an impact on the dialogue in Washington and throughout the country.

We have had success in leveling the playing field with freewheeling foreign and domestic investment companies, pawnshop bureaucrats and politicians. They think about the next election instead of the next generation and would like to sell our roads to the highest bidders, raise taxes, increase tolls, and, in some cases, all of the above.

The way we affect the future is by acting today. As Dean Acheson, secretary of state for President Truman once said, “The best thing about the future is that it only comes one day at a time.”

By taking it one day at a time, we are making a difference. LL