America has many problems- that much we know. One of the biggest problems facing us is the enormous shortfall in infrastructure spending, which is a necessity for creating jobs and spurring economic growth. However, the prevailing line in the mainstream media is the concept of “bipartisan blame” for the country’s parties- and you see this in the consistent disparaging remarks against “Washington,” “politicians,” “Congress,” and so on. The media has created a false impression in the mind of the average voter that all politicians, from both parties, are the same, and that they both don’t represent their constituents. In return, this has destroyed confidence in our democracy and caused voter cynicism to skyrocket.
But there isn’t any truth to this myth, with a focus on infrastructure in particular. We have Republicans who are chanting against any new spending or revenues, but instead calling for radical budget cutbacks. When the issue of infrastructure spending is brought up, they give a voodoo math-defying statement that we need to do “more with less”- which borders on impossibility, as infrastructure is already underfunded, and Republicans continue to oppose giving it the funds we need.
Meanwhile, you have Democrats, who understand the need for our economy to grow, and want to invest in our nation’s infrastructure. President Obama’s stimulus was the first real attempt in decades to repair our infrastructure, and as a result, our rating from the American Society of Civil Engineers rose from a D in 2009 to a D+ today. The stimulus provided roughly $80 billion, far below what was needed. Why so little money? A lot had to be diverted from infrastructure spending to satisfy the conservative mantra of tax cuts, which became the lion’s share of the legislation, but even that didn’t stop Republicans from opposing it. In 2011, President Obama proposed the American Jobs Act, which would have given us the infrastructure spending we need. After the bill failed in the Senate, with almost every Democrat voting for it, and every Republican voting against it. Then, Senate Democrats made a push- that was blocked by a Republican minority- to finance $60 billion in infrastructure spending through a slight tax increase on incomes over $500,000. Ultimately, the need for the tax increase was caused by the Republican obsession with the deficit, even as government borrowing rates reached historic lows.
We have three Democratic budgets that were proposed this Spring. House Democrats, Senate Democrats, and President Obama ALL call for $50 billion in immediate infrastructure spending and $10 billion for a public-private infrastructure bank, just like the American Jobs Act did.
What does the Republican budget say about this? Instead of investing in infrastructure, something Americans understand we need, they cut transportation spending by a quarter over the next decade. By next year, transportation funding would be halved from this year. How does this create an environment where we can create jobs and rebuild our crumbling infrastructure?
I hope that one day Americans will recognize that politicians weren’t created equal. I hope that they’ll realize that both parties don’t stand for the same thing, and I hope that then they’ll vote out the Republicans holding our nation’s future hostage. Maybe then we’ll be able to sort out this country’s problems, but until then we might be forced to live with a further deteriorating infrastructure, and a weak economic recovery.