Region Forward Blog

The Morning Measure: Reducing sprawl to reduce the deficit

Dec 6, 2010
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Unless you’ve been under a rock for the past year or so you know there’s been a lot of talk recently on the deficit. It’s everywhere. And everyone seems to have an idea for how to reduce it. So what does this have to do with RF? Well the panel of experts commissioned by President Obama to look at ways to cut the deficit released its report last week. It contains some of the typically-cited measures – raising the retirement age cuts to social spending tax increases etc. – as well as some not so often-cited such as reducing military spending.

However as Streetsblog points out the panel also supports measures aimed at reducing sprawl and its negative economic impact on the nation’s balance sheet. The mortgage interest deduction which promotes people buying “as much house as they can” rather than more sustainable alternatives was recommended to be capped at a certain amount for first homes and eliminated altogether for second homes. The panel also embraced a 15-cent hike in the gas tax to help fund investments in transportation infrastructure with controls on how much gets devoted to highways.

Not being economists we here at The Morning Measure can’t comment on the impact or even the rationality of all of the proposals in the panel’s report. The anti-sprawl measures however make perfect sense and align completely with the RF targets of concentrating more housing in activity centers and reducing vehicle miles traveled.

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