Thursday, August 9, 2007

Infrastructure Matters

Last week, we got a stark reminder of the cost of war when the I-35 West collapsed in Minneapolis, dumping commuters and construction workers into the Mississippi River.

Now calm down – the bridge didn’t collapse because of the war, and I am not saying it did. I am saying that we have some totally screwed up spending priorities.

Consider that the war is costing $150 Billion dollars a year, or about $3 Billion per week. $150 Billion dollars could repair 600 bridges a year.

Infrastructure matters. Without sound infrastructure, the economy is at risk. Highways are deteriorating, bridges are crumbling, the electric grid is teetering, ports are not secure, and we all saw two years ago this month that the levee system is unreliable.

The Resident was mindful of the post-Katrina flap when he went to Minneapolis and pledged the money to rebuild the bridge. And that’s all well and good. But then today, as he headed off to yet another vacation, the Leisure President denounced a hike in the gas tax to repair infrastructure.

“Before we raise taxes, which could affect economic growth, I would strongly urge the Congress to examine how they set priorities,” Mr. Bush said.

“My suggestion would be that they revisit the process by which they spend gasoline money in the first place,” he added, accusing lawmakers of focusing on their own parochial concerns — or plum projects — above such national concerns as bridge conditions.

Representative Don Young, Republican of Alaska and a member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, has raised the possibility of increasing the gasoline tax as a way to pay for bridge repairs throughout the country in the wake of the Minneapolis bridge collapse, which raised new concerns about potential problems with a number of the nation’s bridges. A plan being considered by the House committee would index the current gasoline tax for inflation, which would result in an increase of roughly 5 cents.

Sweet Jeebus…he wants everyone else to reevaluate priorities? While bridges fall down and levees fail and people perish? But he won’t even consider reevaluating his pet war?

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