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Port Authority Head Rips Gingrich, Reagan & Tea Party In Manhattan Speech

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- The head of the agency that owns the World Trade Center site and runs the New York region's airports and other transportation infrastructure took aim Tuesday at the Tea Party movement and others who would slash government spending.

"Unfortunately, you cannot always do more with less," said Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Executive Director Chris Ward. "Sometimes you simply must do more. And until that reality becomes part of our political conversation, we're going to continue to be playing catch-up with the rest of the world."

Speaking to a construction industry luncheon in Manhattan, Ward said that despite his "vaunted optimism," Ronald Reagan "launched a darker strain in American politics, that somehow government itself was the problem. And unfortunately the notion that we could always do more with less."

Ward said that strain ran through Newt Gingrich's "Contract with America," tax-reform advocate Grover Norquist's no-tax pledge, "and I will say clearly and candidly to the tea party of today."

Ward earlier gave the audience an update on rebuilding at the trade center site, where a memorial to those who died will open next month on the 10th anniversary of the terror attacks.

He said that while he is hopeful about the rebuilding effort, "I must share that I do not have the same optimism for both the city and the country going forward."

The Port Authority board voted this month to raise tolls at its bridges and tunnels. Ward had pushed for higher increases. He said projects like revamping LaGuardia and Newark Liberty airports will have to be deferred.

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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