Which government programs should get funded?

Construction on the I-580 freeway in Emeryville, Calif.

TEXT OF STORY

JEREMY HOBSON: Well Republicans will take over the House of Representatives next week. And cutting spending will be high on the agenda. But plans to take money that's been set aside for highway maintenance and spend it on other things is already running into opposition. A number of groups from pavement makers to truckers call the idea "inconceivable."

Marketplace's David Gura reports from Washington.


David Gura: When you fill up your gas tank, a percentage of what you pay for gas goes into the highway trust fund. Pete Ruane heads the American Road and Transportation Builders Association. He doesn't want Congress to touch it.

Pete Ruane: Because the whole funding situation will then be subject to the annual whims and caprice of Congress through the appropriations process.

The House GOP transition team says the country can't afford any more sacred cows. All non-security spending is on the table. Former Republican representative Mickey Edwards served in Congress for 16 years.

Mickey Edwards: Everybody thought that if you cut anything from their programs, if you didn't increase the spending on their programs, there would be very dire consequences.

He says cuts are tough because each of these programs has some merit. But with a deficit this big, the government can't afford to fund them all.

Edwards: You go to Congress to do what's best for the country. As a member of Congress, your job is to look at the overall picture of what our economy can bear, and make choices.

In Washington, I'm David Gura for Marketplace.

About the author

David Gura is a reporter for Marketplace, based in the Washington, D.C. bureau.

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