"Mr. Mica said of his House colleagues,
"The first is infrastructure spending. We cannot afford to fall behind the rest of the world in terms of our infrastructure development, but that’s exactly what we are doing. At a time when interest rates are as low as we are likely to see, when labor and other costs are minimal due to lack of demand during the downturn, and when the need is so high, why aren’t we making a massive investment in infrastructure, which is ultimately an investment in our future? There are many, many public investments we could make where the benefits surely exceed the costs – these are things the private sector won’t do on its own even though they are highly valuable to society – so what are we waiting for? [Full article here]Particularly confusing for Thoma - and for most of us - is the Republican blockade of infrastructure spending when, in fact, it betrays their own professed beliefs in supply side economics:
"If there’s any policy Republicans ought to be able to support, it’s infrastructure spending. It’s inherently a supply-side policy, it helps to promote future economic growth, and it’s an investment with large, positive net benefits. But Republicans see a 'we won’t build that' approach to infrastructure spending. . ."
|No bridge for you!!|
To fend off the horrific possibility of maintaining America's bridges and roads, the GOP used their favorite tactic early and often, hostage taking. Here's an example. In January 2012 the House GOP tried to tie infrastructure investment to - guess what - their Holy Grail, expanded oil-and-gas development which they asserted would:
". . . help pay for infrastructure improvements. When new energy resources are developed, we’ll need updated infrastructure to bring it to
market. This creates a link that will allow for both American energy jobs and American infrastructure jobs to be created simultaneously,” said House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) in a statement."
|Workers remove a school bus from the |
interstate 35W bridge collapse site in
Minneapolis, Minn., Aug. 12, 2007. The
school bus was carrying 52 children.
All the children survived the fall.
(AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
Moreover, not only is infrastructure investment essential given the accelerating deterioration of many bridges, highways, wastewater treatment facilities, electricity grid, and tunnels, it is an especially wise time for the federal government to borrow to do so:
"It comes as we may be approaching the end of a five year period in which investing in the nation’s physical infrastructure has been something close to a free lunch. With interest rates near all-time lows and millions of construction workers unemployed, the last few years have been a time that it would have been a historical bargain for the United States to do upgrades to roads, bridges, and airports that will eventually need to take place anyway. It has been a political breakdown—in particular conservatives’ view of almost any non-defense federal spending as wasteful—standing in the way."[Full article here]As Republicans always point out, private businesses desire to invest in a favorable borrowing environment. Interest rates now are as favorable as they have been in many decades. So, once again, in opposing infrastructure investment they belie their own beliefs. Is it possible that in order to deconstruct the national government, that many Republicans will preside over the terminal deterioration of our national infrastructure, to stand by as more bridges collapse? Yes, it is. We face a political insurgency, not politics as usual. This decades long rules-busting guerrilla warfare has no other purpose than to destroy the concept of "general welfare." The presently malignant GOP will not give up, regardless of election reults. Democrats everywhere, on this and other issues, need to stand taller, shout louder, and use and extend their advantages to the fullest. Otherwise, perhaps putting too fine a point on it, history may record our Civil War as a Pyrhhic victory . . .