Gardner’s response to The Hill about Dept. of Transportation raises more questions for journos

The Hill picked up the ball after KFKA radio host Amy Oliver dropped it, and asked Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO) about his statement on Oliver’s radio show Friday that there are “great ideas” floating around to “basically turn the Department of Transportation back to the states.”

The Hill’s Transportation blog reported yesterday:

“When you listen to whole interview it is clear that Rep. Gardner is simply saying there is a discrepancy in transportation funding and Colorado is a net loser when it comes to the money we get back,” Gardner spokesman Rachel Boxer said in a statement provided to The Hill.  “He believes in letting Colorado keep more of the gas tax it collects therefore cutting some of the bureaucracy between the states and Washington.”

Gardner’s office has yet to return my call, so I’m hoping a journalist, or even Oliver, will ask Gardner for details on this, to fill in the journalistic gap here.

First of all, the statement doesn’t actually say anything about whether Gardner believes that the Department of Transportation should be dismantled. So if Gardner’s office is trying to backpedal, he hasn’t done it.

So, the question remains hanging, “Does Gardner think, as he told Oliver, that it’s a great idea to basically turn the Department of Transportation over to the states?” If so, how would he do it? If not, why not?

And Boxer’s statement to the Hill raises a number of other questions, such as: How much of the gasoline tax does he think should be returned to Colorado and other states? How would he cut the Department of Transportation budget to make up for lost funds? How would he determine how much tax money individual states should keep? Does he support the other functions of the Department of Transportation, as described here? Does he believe the Department of Transportation serves the national interest?

Also when you read a transcript of Gardner’s interview with Oliver, it’s not at all “clear,” as Boxer told The Hill, that Gardner was “simply saying” that Colorado should keep more of the gasoline tax it sends to Washington.

That’s what Oliver, the talk show host was saying.

But Gardner got all excited and one upped Oliver. He told her about great ideas to “basically turn the Department of Transportation back to the states.” That sounds like the entire banana to me. Or basically the entire banana. Maybe leave a bite or the skin in Washington DC.

Was this a misstatement on Gardner’s part, rather than a misreading of his interview on the part of The Hill, me, and anyone else in their right mind who heard him on Amy Oliver’s show Friday?

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