Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee says it’s not a "sexy" issue, but it’s time for politicians to address the nation’s crumbling infrastructure.
"I think everybody is probably more mindful today of the nation’s infrastructure than they have been in a long, long time," Huckabee says. "They just don’t think about it until something tragic like what happened in Minneapolis takes place and then you start realizing, you know, we are literally putting our lives in the hands of structure."
Huckabee says the nation’s highways and bridges aren’t the only troublesome infrastructure problems that must be tackled. He points to the nation’s elderly water and sewer systems, too, and cites a recent incident in New York City.
"Everybody gets scared and thinks it’s a terrorist attack. No, it’s just an 85-year-old steam pipe, that’s what it is, that blows up a street and kills somebody," Huckabee says. "Maybe it’ll start getting through to us that you can’t keep stressing these infrastructures of our cities and keep moving more people into those cities and not have, at some point, a price to pay."
When Huckabee was governor of Arkansas, 80 percent of voters approved a hike in the gas tax to rebuild that state’s highways. But Huckabee says raising the federal gas tax isn’t the right response to raising money to fix the nation’s Interstates and U.S. Highways as cars are getting more fuel efficient and per-gallon gas tax receipts will decrease.
"There’s got to be some real thought given to it, but as far as do I have a three-point ‘here’s how exactly we’ll do it,’ no, but I don’t have to do that today," Huckabee told reporters.
Huckabee suggests some "user fees" are appropriate for people who "use things" the most.
During an appearance on Iowa Public Television, Huckabee also lamented the state of the nation’s air traffic control system.
"We are using technology that is older than I am and you know, I’m getting pretty old now. I was born in 1955," Huckabee said. "The technology that we’re using to run the air traffic control system was developed in 1950."
Huckabee jokes that many of the rental cars people pick up after getting off an airplane have been navigation systems than planes do.
"We are just about to the point of collapse of our air traffic control system," Huckabee said. "We have ten times the number of aircraft up in the air than we had, really, back when the system was designed."
According to Huckabee, anyone who flies knows the system’s out of whack with all the delayed take offs and late arrivals.