Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) appeared on MSNBC's "The Dylan Ratigan Show" Tuesday to discuss his recently introduced legislation designed to discourage states from turning to road and airport privatization as a means to fix short-term budget gaps.
"My bill says, if in fact the federal government helped to build that road or that airport, we ought to be sitting at the table when they decide to lease it or to sell it," Durbin told Ratigan during an interview for part of his "America For Sale" series, a collaboration with The Huffington Post. "We have an interest to represent taxpayers in this country. I'll be darned if I'm gonna fight to send hundreds of millions of dollars out to states so that they can turn around, make a dime, and raise the cost of the service to taxpayers and consumers in America."
HuffPost's Dave Jamieson also appeared on Ratigan's program last week to explain his report on the 2006 sale of the Indiana Toll Road to private foreign investors, which has since led to an almost doubling of travel fares on the stretch of highway.
Such deals are coming under increasingly frequent consideration, Jamieson writes in his report, though long-term negatives could soon outstrip the short-term benefits:
Whether it's parking meters, government buildings or highways, privatization deals look awfully tempting these days, with state budgets strained to the breaking point and many Republican-leaning states in an anti-government fervor. These long-term deals can provide sitting politicians with an immediate windfall, but they can place a considerable burden on taxpayers two or three generations from now.