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Republicans Rejoice as They Spread the South’s Third World Status To The Entire Nation

Many Americans really have no comprehension of the importance of basic physical and organizational structures and facilities such as buildings, roads, and power supplies needed for the operation of an advanced society or enterprise. A great number of Americans mesmerized by Republicans’ anti-tax agenda may get exercised and complain when their power goes out or their teeth are shaken loose driving over pothole-ridden roads, but they are most likely the first to vehemently oppose any tax increase to repair America’s crumbling infrastructure. Apparently, Republicans and their supporters are proud that America’s infrastructure compares unfavorably with most advanced and even some developing nations because in their minds spreading the South’s third world status to the entire nation is a worthy goal.

Last year, the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report for 2012-2013 exposed America’s quality and availability of roads, railroads, ports, air transport, electricity, and telephones ranks 25th, behind nations such as Oman and Barbados, and only one spot ahead of Qatar. On Tuesday, the Obama Administration warned that failure to head off bankruptcy of the federal Highway Trust Fund (HTF) before summer will mean delaying over 112,000 roadway and 5,600 transit projects and cost the economy over 700,000 construction jobs within a year. No doubt bankrupting the highway fund, keeping over a hundred-thousand roads in disrepair, and killing nearly three-quarters-of-a-million jobs is appealing to Republicans who have no intent in funding infrastructure improvements.

The highway trust fund is the main funding source for state road and highway projects, and most of them will cease if it runs out of money that is looking likely because the federal gas tax which funds the HTF has not been raised in twenty years (1994). Currently, federal gas tax is 18.4 cents per gallon, but if it kept pace with inflation it would be about 26 cents per gallon and if it were indexed to increasing gas prices, it would be about 35.4 cents. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) warned that to keep Highway Trust Fund solvent, Congress will either have to raise the gas tax by 10 to 15 cents per gallon or find between $13 billion and $18 billion a year from other sources and knowing Republicans it will come out of social safety nets. President Obama has proposed infrastructure spending in the past, and once again proposed a $150 billion four-year plan to replenish the Highway Trust Fund, but Republicans refuse to fund anything the President requests.

One solution from the President is allowing states to charge a toll on Interstate highways as a last resort, but Republicans are as likely to go along with that idea as they are raising the gas tax or approving the President’s infrastructure spending plan. On Thursday, a bipartisan group of Senators approved a bill to keep funding at current levels, but as was revealed this past week, Senate Republicans are enamored with obstructing bipartisan plans they support unless they can add an amendment or two forcing the President to approve the KeystoneXL pipeline or eliminating some clean energy standards for the Koch brothers; there is little to no chance the funding bill will pass the Senate. Even if Senate Republicans go along with the bipartisan funding proposal, House Republicans will not support anything the President proposes.

America’s infrastructure already rates a grade of “D” according to the Society of Civil Engineers, and the nation would need to spend $3.6 trillion within 6 years just to upgrade the nation’s bridges, roads, and waterways to keep pace, and be competitive, with the rest of the developed world. According to Standard & Poors, there are long term as well as immediate benefits to the economy by investing as little as $1.3 billion over the next year including adding at least 29,000 jobs, boosting economic growth by $2 billion, reduce the deficit by at least $200 million, and many more benefits over the long term. However, Republicans are not going to invest in infrastructure because they already cut federal spending on infrastructure by $60 billion that is at World War II levels.

To get an idea of the typical Republican opposition to spending even a penny on improving infrastructure when they can give the money to the rich and corporations, a good example is the proposed California High Speed Rail project. The project will be the greatest Earth-moving project in California history, create millions of construction and related jobs immediately and long into the future, improve air quality, and save California motorists fuel costs. The California Republican who is chairman of the House subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials said he has no intention of expediting federal funding for the project that will benefit his constituents or the state’s economy. He told supporters last fall he will continue blocking federal funding for the project because he claims the money is better spent on the rich because they “know how to create jobs.” The congressman, Jeff Denham, is firmly ensconced in the pocket of the Koch brothers and the oil industry and they will not allow any project to even start that creates millions of jobs, improves air quality, or reduces fuel usage.

Keeping the Highway Trust Fund out of money, and America’s infrastructure at levels below every developed country on Earth, really serves a variety of Republican goals. Whether it is killing 700,000 jobs, keeping America from competing with the rest of the world, retarding economic growth, or just letting the nation fall farther into disrepair, they have no incentive to fund infrastructure improvements. About four months ago a conservative economist Republicans revere argued that President Obama should propose, and Congress should immediately approve at least $1.3 trillion in infrastructure improvements to strengthen the economy, create millions of jobs, and bring the nation closer to some developing countries’infrastructure. Needless to say, the conservative economist is no longer held in any esteem by Republicans.

President Obama warned that not adequately funding the Highway Trust Fund will bankrupt it, and it was probably succor to Republicans who have tried desperately to bankrupt the federal government and sell it off to the highest bidders. There is no telling how far Republicans will deliberately let this country slide into third world status to prove their racial hatred for this President, but if the Republican former Confederacy is any indication, they will not stop until America ranks below Yemen and Afghanistan’s infrastructure where bridges are non-existent and dirt roads are the norm.

 

 

 

 

 

Rmuse

Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion. Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn't look good. Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.

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