Everywhere I go, and every time I speak with state, regional, county, and municipal transportation leaders around the country, I hear the same thing: we have roads that need attention, and we have transit lines to build, but we just don't have enough resources to get it done by ourselves.
And last Friday at a roundtable at the Truman Library in Independence, Missouri, I heard the same resounding message from leaders in the metropolitan Kansas City area.
I had a message of my own for the folks gathered around the table: If you want to put people to work fixing your infrastructure and modernizing transportation, we know how to do it, and you know how to do it. All we need to do is get Congress to pass the American Jobs Act.
That message was echoed by U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, who brought it home to Independence by saying, "If Harry S. Truman were here today, he'd say, 'Let's move some dirt.'"
Well, the unfortunate truth is that America's states and counties and towns can't move that dirt alone. But we cannot let that be the end of the story because--as Missouri's own President Truman understood from his earliest days as a Jackson County judge--keeping roads safe and laying the transportation foundation for our economy is an essential service of government.
And if we can get Congress to pass the American Jobs Act, we can help regional organizations like MARC find the missing piece of their puzzle.
I can also assure you that I hear the same thing from business leaders. In fact, later that afternoon Senator McCaskill and I met with members of the Kansas City Chamber of Commerce. Again, the same thing: "Kansas City has its act together; we know what we need to do. When will Congress help us do it?"
I wish I knew. There is a pent-up demand for jobs. We all know someone who is unemployed and looking for work. I don't see how Congress can continue to ignore that. It's time to put away the partisanship and get on with the essential services of government.