There is no question that at one time America was an exceptional nation, but those days of a burgeoning middle class, an infrastructure the entire world envied, and manufacturing jobs funding an economic boom are just a memory. On Friday last, President Obama rightly touted the nation’s economic resurgence since he inherited a devastated economy, and he said that the country has, at long last, a chance to “reverse the decades-long erosion of middle-class jobs and incomes;” a Republican decades-long goal.
Sadly, although the President also said he wanted to work with members of Congress to build on the nation’s economic progress, it is likely he will be on his own. The President said, “We just have to invest in the things that we know will secure even faster growth in higher-paying jobs for more Americans. We have to make sure our economy and government work not only for a few, but for all of us. The six years since the financial crisis have demanded hard work and sacrifice on everyone’s part. But as a country, we have every right to be proud of what we’ve got to show for it. More jobs. More insured. A growing economy. Shrinking deficits. Bustling industry. Booming energy.” The President surely understands that Republicans will not invest in anything, much less to make the economy and government work for everyone; it is not in the Koch brother’s vision for America where economic news is only good when the rich prosper.
However, with all the good economic news, Republicans in Congress have rejected any and every attempt to rebuild the nation’s crumbling and decrepit infrastructure. The sad fact is, that if this country does not change its focus on opposing rebuilding America, it will never catch up to the rest of the world and it appears that is the goal of Republicans serving the interests of the Koch brothers and Wall Street.
It is pathetic that as the American economy is outperforming every other nation on Earth, the nation is falling behind the rest of the world that is actively building for the future while Republicans debate and promote policies on how best to fall farther behind and become the third world country they apparently lust after. All the while, Republicans plan new and better ways to transfer more of the nation’s wealth to the richest one-percent, decimate what is left of the once-storied great middle class, and send more Americans into the ranks of the poverty-stricken. It is not that America is lacking in resources to rebuild and prosper, it is just that Republicans cannot bear to see one penny of resources or wealth going to anything, or anyone, other than corporations, Wall Street, and the Koch brothers.
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President Obama has called on Congress to appropriate funding to rebuild and repair the country’s third rate (ranked 26th) infrastructure since 2009. When the President said “We just have to invest in the things that we know will secure even faster growth in higher-paying jobs for more Americans,” and “make sure our economy, and our government work not only for a few, but for all of us,” he was surely alluding to spending on infrastructure improvements only the government is capable of. Let’s face it, the uber-wealthy, Wall Street, and the Koch brothers will, and have, never put up one red cent toward rebuilding the infrastructure that they profit from, so it is left to the government to make the investment. Other nations with struggling economies are certainly investing in the future, and it is why a country like China will be the world’s economic leader unless America acts; and soon.
America’s roads and bridges are crumbling, airports are out of date, and most of the country’s seaports are becoming obsolete as a direct result of decades of neglect. Indeed, business leaders, labor unions, Democratic governors, mayors, Democrats in Congress, and the President have complained about a lack of funding for years, and called for more. But except for the President’s woefully inadequate one-time cash infusion from the stimulus program, little has changed. Earlier in the year, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid noted that there are over 70,000 bridges in America engineers consider structurally deficient, but instead of acting to correct the problem, Republicans proposed hundreds-of-billions in tax cuts for the rich and corporations.
What is stunning, is that in the recently passed CRomnibus, over half of the nation’s spending was allocated for making war, not making America’s infrastructure, economy, and middle class stronger. A robust infrastructure rebuilding plan would create millions of living-wage jobs, benefit the business sector, lift millions of Americans out of poverty, and create tax revenue to wipe out the nation’s debt and deficit.
With all the wealth this country has, it is pathetic that the tunnel system between New York City and New Jersey dating from 1910 and about 4,400 meters long is so ancient and devastated from recent hurricanes that they are on the verge of being closed at any time creating “an economic catastrophe for America’s largest city.” Meanwhile, in Switzerland the world’s longest rail tunnel through the Alps is set to open and give European manufacturing a giant transportation advantage over America.
Another travesty is that Republicans have actively blocked every attempt to bring high-speed rail to several areas of the country including California, New York, and Washington. Contrast that with a country like Italy that now has Europe’s fastest high-speed rail line that, like California’s proposed high-speed rail project, extended and enhanced rail transportation to benefit the manufacturing, shipping, and transportation sector while reducing the dependency on fossil fuels and the effects of climate change. Republicans in Congress, particularly those representing California have pledged to stop the high-speed rail project regardless it is the largest Earth-moving project in state history and will create about a million jobs for years that includes hundreds-of-thousands of permanent well-paying jobs.
America leads the rest of the world in many areas, but extremely high child poverty rates, most guns and gun-related deaths, most prison inmates, human rights abuses, poorest middle class, and crumbling infrastructure are nothing to brag about. President Obama has, throughout his tenure in office, attempted to remedy many of those world-leading statistics only to face abject opposition from Republicans. With the amount of wealth this country generates for the rich and corporations, there is no reason America should be falling behind the rest of the world, or its once cherished middle class should be vanishing, but that is precisely what Republicans are crusading to see to fruition.
A recent editorial in an extremely conservative, and large Central California, newspaper touted the President’s achievements over the past few months and years, and then called on him to take the next step and finally address, unilaterally, “rebuilding the middle class and wipeout the income gap between the masses and the wealthiest one percent by restricting their control of the economy they warp for their own benefit to the exclusion of all others.” They did not, however, call on Republicans to work with the President because they know full well their plea would go unheeded and likely lose them significant advertising revenue.
Obviously, the President has preached at, begged, and cajoled Republicans to pass legislation addressing the income gap and there is no better way to start than allocating major funding to rebuild the country’s infrastructure. Early in 2014, a noted conservative economist called on the President to propose, and pressure Congress to pass, at least $1.7 trillion to “start” rebuilding the infrastructure he readily admitted would create millions of living wage jobs, grow the nation’s economy, and recreate the middle class that was once the envy of the world. However, with a Republican Congress poised to hand the totality of the nation’s wealth to the rich instead of preparing America for the future, there is little the President can do on his own.
Elections have consequences, and the consequence of a Republican Congress is that regardless the damage to this country’s economic future, America will continue falling farther behind the rest of the world and keep declining. While the rest of the world progresses and builds future economic dominance, in America the rich get richer and Republicans will finally achieve their thirty year goal of transforming America into a third world nation.
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.