Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Proof that the GOP is Anti-Business: Their Refusal to Pass an Infrastructure Investment Bill

by Sunnyjane

When President Obama said to a group of small business owners during the 2012 election campaign season, You didn't build that, every right-wing politician, talking head, and bumper-sticker maker looked to the heavens and yelled, Hallelujah!

What they conveniently failed to mention, however, was the rest of the President's remark: If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help … Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. 

The National Interstate Highway System

By the 1950s, with the wars in Europe and the Pacific ended, it was time to turn the nation's attention inward.  After taking office in 1953, Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower began a plan to link state roads within the United States in what is now referred to as the National Highway System.  No doubt it was his experience as Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces and the successful invasion of France and Germany during the Second World War that made him realize that America needed a more efficient system of interstate highways should the nation ever have to go to war on its own soil as a result of a foreign invasion.  In addition, Eisenhower envisioned the ease of moving military equipment and troops to airports and seaports when the need arose to send American forces into battle overseas.  [Just for edification: there is no truth to the old and popular rumor that there was a one-in-five directive that stipulated that one mile in every five miles of highway must be perfectly straight to allow for use as military landing fields and/or airports.]

Construction on the plan to build the interstate highway system, which of course incorporated many bridges and overpasses,  began in 1956 and ended thirty-five years later in 1991.  Building the  NHS provided many jobs that were desperately needed after years of war preceded by a devastating depression.  

The State of America's Highway System is Gruesome
Just cross your fingers and hope your children's school bus doesn't end up at the bottom of a ravine.

Every successful business owner understands that investments in improvements are necessary to keep his company competitive, and so it is with local, state, and federal governments.  Failing to invest in infrastructure repair, replacement, and modernization is counterproductive to a healthy national economy. 

Much of the original National Highway System is almost sixty years old, and while some improvements have been made to the highways themselves, too many bridges -- both within the NHS and outside the NHS -- have not received similar attention.  Bridge designs and materials that were perfectly safe in the fifties and sixties are woefully inadequate today and are considered functionally obsolete, just one grade up from structurally obsolete.  That is hardly a reassuring fact.

The combination of commerce and commuting (for both business and pleasure) has long taken over the original purpose for linking the nation's highways. Duly justifying their If You Bought It, A Truck Brought It slogan, the trucking industry maintains that 15.5 million trucks travel the highways every day -- and, naturally, they must traverse bridges along the way.

In 2007, it was reported that more than 140,000 bridges were deemed structurally deficient or structurally obsolete.  In 2011, Republican senators filibustered President Obama's jobs and infrastructure bill because...well, because of their hatred for the Democratic president.  They care nothing about jobs and safety concerns for Americans.  NOTHING.  

The Business of Doing Business
The travel life of a product can be examined by taking just one product's story on its journey from producer to consumer.  Let's take John Boehner's addiction to fondness for Merlot as an example, shall we?  We'll assume it's Napa Valley grown and produced, and since teleportation -- that dubious little system that allows for the transfer of matter from one point to another without traversing the physical space between them -- is hardly an option, John's wine is no doubt flown into one of the Washington Metropolitan airports in Virginia.  But he still can't fill his glass.  The drinkie-poo must be picked up by a truck (there's no truth to the rumor that one pallet is labeled JOHN BOEHNER) and driven across the Potomac River on (most likely) Francis Scott Key Bridge to one of the many Georgetown liquor stores and/or to a distribution point.  From there, the wine is transported, again by truck, to the copious hotels and bars in the Nation's Capitol. 
To date, manufacturers have not affixed wings or attached inflatable devices to their products 
For those who may not be familiar with the District of Columbia, it is impossible to get into the city from Virginia without crossing one of five bridges.  Because Reagan National on the Virginia side of the Potomac River is the main fly-into-fly-out-of airport for politicians, you can trust that those bridges are maintained, um, fairly well.  (It's too bad that little productive business is actually conducted by those politicians, but that's another topic altogether.) 

Republicans Refuse to Spend on Infrastructure

Republican response to our crumbling infrastructure crisis:  We. Don't. Care!
Two of the fifteen items on the 2012 Republican Platform are job creation and infrastructure.  And in what can only be called sick humor, the title of their platform is Restoring the American Dream: Economy & Jobs.

President Obama has asked five times for an infrastructure bill that would not only repair or replace substandard roads and bridges all across America -- his latest call being in March of this year.  When he made a plea in 2011 for Congress to invest in infrastructure improvements to stimulate the economy and address the nation’s crumbling bridges and roads, Mitch McConnell (R-KY) took his turtle-like countenance in front of a microphone and called it President Obama's re-election plan.  But in a lovely twist of fate, the very next day the Sherman Minton Bridge linking Kentucky with Indiana had to be shut down by Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels -- a fellow Republican, by the way -- because the already-designated as deficient span was found to have cracks in its load-bearing section.

Interestingly enough, the Sherman Minton Bridge and the bridge that recently collapsed in Washington state suffer the same older-design flaw classified as fracture critical, which simply stated, means that when one section fails, the entire bridge is at risk of collapsing.  Rachel Maddow had an excellent segment on the fracture critical construction issue.

In 2010, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has rarely-if-ever supported a liberal idea, came out with a first-ever study that harshly criticized the state of America's transportation infrastructure, saying in part: The bottom line is this: our nation’s deteriorating infrastructure is placing a major drag on our economic growth. We must focus on improving the way transportation delivers for business, removing barriers to maintaining, modernizing and expanding our nation’s transportation infrastructure, and driving increased public and private investment.

I guess Republicans didn't get that memo.

End Note

President Obama has improved the job market, the stock market, and the housing market.  He saved GM and restored manufacturing growth.  The deficit is down and the stock market may soon reach an all-time high.

And who is anti-business here?  Just asking. 

Acknowledgement:  Many thanks to our commenter Alwaysthink, who allowed me to take on this issue for a post.  This is, as Yknott said, a subject about which we are all passionate. 

And I might add: Or should be!

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