Credit is based on trust which allows one party to provide resources to another party where that second party does not reimburse the first party immediately, but arranges either to repay or return those resources at a later date. However, some resources cannot be returned in lieu of repayment and when a government spends borrowed money its citizens should see some benefit because they are responsible for repaying the debt the government incurs. Most Americans do not object to their tax dollars being used to pay debts when they receive something in return such as decent roads, schools, and infrastructure all citizens enjoy, but a great deal of America’s debt is for wars in which no-one benefits except the military industrial complex. Republicans refuse to fund, borrow, or spend one penny on projects or programs that benefit 99% of the population, but they have no problem creating debt that benefits the rich and their corporations and forcing the American people to pick up the tab.
On Friday, President Obama brought out a two-year old set of proposals and tax incentives worth $7 billion for a $21 billion infrastructure improvement program, but Speaker of the House John Boehner balked and said “It’s easy to go out there and be Santa Claus and talk about all the things you want to give away, but at some point somebody has to pay the bill.” Boehner is right, taxpayers will have to pay the bill, but in return they will get a fraction of America’s crumbling roads, rails, 67,000 bridges and ports repaired to bring the country closer to some developing nations’ infrastructure standards. As it is, America’s infrastructure now ranks 25th overall for infrastructure quality below Spain and Chile that are considered among the worst in the world, but according to Republicans, America is exceptional and too broke to invest in infrastructure that will cost the nation over $3.1 trillion in economic growth within 5 years without immediate spending to bring the country up to standards rivaling the poorest European nations.
It is not just major world organizations citing that the richest country in the history of the world suffers a rapidly crumbling and decrepit infrastructure that needs immediate improvements. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) recently released a new report on America’s current infrastructure status that gave this exceptional nation a D grade, and that is after the President’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (stimulus) funded repairs for a fraction of America’s substandard roads and highways. Republicans opposed the stimulus as sheer waste even though it created over 4 million jobs and saved the economy from Republicans’ 8 year deregulation and spending spree. According to the ASCE, unless America invests an additional $3.6 trillion in infrastructure between now and 2020, the U.S. will lose $1.1 trillion in trade, $3,100 per year drop in personal disposable income, $2.4 trillion in lost consumer spending, and a little over 3.1 million jobs. It is bad news for Americans and the economy, but it is good news for Republicans as they ramp up their four-year assault on the government, jobs, and the economy.
The ASCE reported that in all aspects of infrastructure; energy, aviation, dams, water, levees, roads, schools, and hazardous waste disposal, America is failing despite Republican claims the richest country on Earth is exceptional, but broke because of grave debt they never considered worthy of attention until an African American became President. In January of 2009, the deficit Republicans created in 8 years became unsustainable and the sole reason for killing jobs, eliminating domestic programs, and giving the rich and corporations greater tax cuts that persists to this day. Unfortunately for Americans, the Republicans succeeded infecting all of Washington, including President Obama, with a debt and deficit reduction frenzy that threatens Social Security, Medicare, and nearly every domestic program that helps all Americans.
During the Bush administration, Republicans regularly parroted their man-turned-god Ronald Reagan’s famous words that “deficits don’t matter” as they racked up debt for tax cuts for the rich, a prescription plan for the pharmaceutical industry, and two very expensive wars. In fact, Americans will be shouldering crushing debt for decades to repay an estimated $6 trillion for the two wars that provided nothing whatsoever to the American people except thousands of dead Americans and tens-of-thousands of wounded Veterans. A recent report revealed the Iraq and Afghanistan wars will be the most expensive in America’s history and according to the study’s author, “The legacy of decisions taken during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars will dominate future federal budgets for decades to come,” and instead of charging the oil industry, weapons manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies, and wealthiest Americans for the resources and money they received on credit, Republicans are forcing 99% of the population to pay with tax dollars and services for decades to come.
A great share of the debt for the two wars is $60.45 billion in Iraq and more than $100 billion in Afghanistan for infrastructure repairs after they were decimated as a result of Bush’s invasion and subsequent wholesale destruction, and the spending went directly to Republican’s favorite corporations such as KBR and Halliburton. However, the single largest accrued liability of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is the cost of providing medical care and disability benefits to war Veterans that historically comes due many decades later. For example, the report noted the peak year for compensating World War I veterans was 1969, and World War II veterans saw the largest payments from the government in the late 1980s. Vietnam and the first Gulf War Veterans’ payments are still rising and are not expected to peak for a couple of decades.
Republicans have accrued quite a distinguished record for destroying economies and infrastructures, but unlike Iraq and Afghanistan, they oppose spending any money to repair America’s crumbling infrastructure. At $21 billion, the President’s infrastructure improvement proposal is meager and insufficient, but Republicans will oppose it the same way they opposed spending $1 billion that was funded to help returning Veterans find jobs after serving in Bush’s two wars Americans will be paying for over the next several decades.
Americans do not object to repaying debts they incurred, but they should see some benefit and they certainly do not expect to pay the debt for other countries’ infrastructure improvements when their roads, bridges, dams, schools, and ports are falling apart before their eyes. For eight years, Republican piled up enormous debt to pay the rich, pharmaceutical industry, and war machine the American people will have to repay, and for four years they have refused to spend one penny on America, its people, or the crumbling infrastructure because their war, tax cuts, and pharmaceutical industry’s debt and deficit are unsustainable. They must be rejoicing though, because by opposing even minimal infrastructure repairs, they will cost Americans over 3.1 million jobs, $1.1 trillion in trade, $3,100 per year drop in personal disposable income, and $2.4 trillion in lost consumer spending, and combined with $6 trillion for their unfunded wars, will keep America in debt for several decades and Americans will have nothing to show for it.