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I love groups with the gumption to take on big tasks and do what needs to be done – can-do groups that can, and do. But, uh-oh, here comes The Little Choo-Choo That Couldn’t: The US Congress.
Since the earliest days of our US of A, the most basic task of this legislative body has been to keep our national house in good repair – tending to roads, bridges, rail systems, airports, school buildings, parks, internet access, etc. Yet, with a toxic mix of anti-government ideology and fiscal foolishness, Congressional Republicans have recently been blocking every serious proposal to reinvest in America’s collapsing infrastructure.
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The result is an inexcusable drop in maintenance, even as our population has expanded dramatically and the wear and tear on all parts of the infrastructure has created disasters-in-the-making. As one senator says of our increasingly-ramshackle house, “I’ve been here seven and a half years. We have not solved one single problem. It’s just so frustrating.”
That was no tax-and-spend liberal Democrat talking – it was a penny-pinching Republican, Bob Corker of Tennessee. Indeed, it was not that long ago that most Republicans understood and funded infrastructure – from Lincoln to Teddy Roosevelt to Ike, and even Reagan, who called such common sense maintenance “an investment in tomorrow that we must make today.”
Gail Collins, the superbly sensible New York Times columnist, recently noted that, “In a perfect world, Congress would figure out a serious, long-term plan to fix bridges, [etc.].” Yes, but I would amend her observation with this: It shouldn’t take “a perfect world” – even a Congress in a half-way mediocre world ought to be able to do that job.
Actually, thanks to GOP obstinacy, Congress isn’t the Little Choo-Choo That Couldn’t. It’s the Choo-Choo that could, but won’t.
“Congress: The Road To Roads,” The New York Times, August 1, 2014.
“Build We Won’t,” The New York Times, July 4, 2014.
“America’s Highways, Running on Empty,” The New York Times, June 2, 2014.
“Remarks by the President on Building a 21st Century Infrastructure,” www.whitehouse.gov, May 14, 2014.