A minor debate in the House of Representatives a couple of days ago regarding funding for highway and mass transit in America exposed a stark difference between Republican and Democrats’ approach to job creation and infrastructure improvements. Indeed, the Republicans showed they are not serious about job creation or infrastructure improvements, but instead propounded the myriad ways Democrats and President Obama are attempting to squander tax dollars the Republicans would rather hand over to corporations and the wealthy.
It is inconceivable that any serious party would vote against infrastructure improvements or mass transit development, but Republicans stood on the floor of the House and gave lame-brain excuses why funding for highways, bridges, and mass-transit was a wasteful use of resources. Democrats gave passionate responses that outlined the virtues of government spending on real projects that create jobs, improve America’s transportation system, protect Americans’ safety, and preserve the environment, but their informative speeches fell on deaf ears. Republicans after all, are not interested in any programs that work for the American people and they demonstrated their contempt in grand fashion. The Republicans who spoke against transportation funding were shameless, and their reasons for opposing the programs were an embarrassment.
In fact, the Republicans who spoke out against highway improvements typified conservative’s philosophy toward America, its workers, and the ideology that government’s task is not to work for its citizens. As Republicans become more blatant in their advocacy for corporatism, it is mind-boggling that any American would support policies that prohibit job growth and a vibrant middle class. One thing is certain; Republicans’ have fooled a large share of Americans into perpetuating their own demise. The American people may stop supporting Republicans if they had witnessed Republicans deliberately lying to prevent job creation, although there is a contingency that supports them for no other reason than to stifle Democratic progress in improving the economy.
During the debate on the merits of highway and mass transit funding, Democrats explained in detail that America’s highway system was given a grade of “D” in infrastructure for a major industrial power. The number of potential jobs created to build high-speed rail lines is 48,800 new and continuing jobs in Florida. That number is just to build the rail lines and does not include the associated jobs for cities building terminals and the support services associated with such a system. Democrats also pointed out that most of the jobs are for private contractors who do the actual work of building and maintaining roads and rail lines. Besides being private industry jobs, they are local jobs cities desperately need to foster any kind of sustained economic growth and to provide crucial tax revenue for the federal government and localities.
Democrats also expounded on the environmental and energy savings the country would enjoy with an efficient mass transit system as well as an effective highway system. One of the Democrats even recalled the bridge collapse in Minnesota in 2007 and explained that waiting until a catastrophic infrastructure failure happens is costly in lives and resources. All the Democrats described the benefits to business of having an efficient, well-maintained transportation system for moving raw materials and products to consumers and manufacturers alike. Regardless the benefits of spending on highways and mass transit, Republicans came up with nonsense excuses and solutions to energy savings and environmental health.
One of the Republicans, Brian Bilbray (R-CA) came up with a bizarre solution to conserve the environment and energy instead of funding highway improvements and mass transit. Bilbray was responding to Representative Alcee Hastings’ (D-FL) contention that highway funding is good for the economy, environment, and energy conservation. Bilbray’s bizarre solution to an antiquated and crumbling transportation system was to eliminate stop signs in lieu of yield signs. Bilbray began his speech railing on government’s intrusion into American’s lives by making them stop at intersections instead of letting them just slow down. Eliminating stop signs on Interstate highways according to Bilbray would satisfy Democrat’s concerns about pollution and energy conservation. It is obvious that Republicans are not serious about transportation, the environment, or fuel consumption or they would not propose such insane solutions as eliminating non-existent stop signs on the nation’s highways. Even though Bilbray’s solution was bizarre, at least it was an offer. Pete Sessions, (R-TX) was speaking on behalf of all the Republicans and his solution was to rail on President Obama.
Sessions blamed the president for killing jobs by proposing infrastructure improvements. Sessions went on the oft-repeated rant that Obama’s spending is the cause of job losses and claimed that if Republicans were allowed to cut spending drastically, then business would create jobs. The Texas Republican spent at least 4 minutes attacking everything from health care reform to the economic stimulus to over-reaching regulations as the reason business is not hiring new employees. Sessions did not contribute one idea for or against government spending on transportation or infrastructure, and he could have played any Republican midterm campaign speech demonizing the Obama Administration and accomplished the same results.
It is painfully obvious that Republicans do not want to create jobs or help the economy. This time it was a debate over transportation funding, but it could have been any subject and the results would be the same. It does not matter how many economists say government spending creates jobs, or how beneficial a modern transportation system would be to Americans and businesses, Republicans will not help Americans unless they are wealthy. When a Democrat reminded Republicans that private contractors and raw material providers would benefit from infrastructure funding as much as job creation, Republicans reverted to their tired argument that government spending kills jobs. Do Republicans want the federal and state governments to deposit tax dollars directly into corporate accounts? It appears the GOP will not be satisfied until the IRS becomes a collection agency for Koch Industries or a few other American corporations.
Every American should be required to watch floor debates in Congress to see firsthand how their representatives are protecting their interests and doing the people’s work. Republicans are not serious about job creation or helping the economy grow and regardless of what they say on the campaign trail, their true intentions can be witnessed during legislative debates. If an American had seen and heard the Republicans argue against something as simple as infrastructure improvements that are guaranteed to create jobs and still support them, then the country is in deeper trouble than any sane person could imagine.