Friday, May 2, 2008

GOP US Infrastructure Crisis Solution-Tax Cut?

I have often described Republicans as freeloaders, relentlessly sucking society dry, with no thought of replenishing or maintaining our common recourse's.

These proud capitalists advocate removing corporate taxes and freeing business from suffocating regulation. Basically, it’s a “what can you do for me” approach to advancing their business health.

What’s missing, intentionally, is the business of government. Government is the peoples business. It’s a non profit business with department heads, employees, budgets, service, land management, environmental control, enforce laws and provide for our defense.

Using the power of suggestion, when conservatives complain that government is the enemy of business, we subconsciously accept the idea government is not a business. In fact, I would argue that this is the prevailing wisdom.

Once the Republican frame has been applied, their concept of liassez faire capitalism can more easily be argued. And that makes it impossible for government to ask “what can you do for me,” in its quest to benefit “we the people,” without sounding intrusive.

This opens the door for neo-liberal freeloaders to devour unabated, government provided benefits, even if giving back might initiate a transformational green economy. And it’s all happening at the most inopportune time.

According to PRNewswire, “The United States' infrastructure problems could reach crisis proportions in the next 10 years if steps are not taken to attract more private capital to the sector or overhaul the nation's antiquated regional infrastructure planning process,” says a report published jointly by Ernst & Young LLP and The urban Land Institute. The US currently has a $170 billion annual funding gap for infrastructure projects. However, the gap is widening every year (and) could balloon over the next few years as local and state governments experience "revenue shrink," particularly from lower property tax collections. "

Frankly, the US has been coasting when it comes to infrastructure spending, especially when compared to growing economies such as China which spends about nine percent of GDP on vital infrastructure.

"It is clear from the experience of other countries that public private partnerships (PPPs) are an essential tool in planning, building and maintaining vital infrastructure. Failure to fully embrace this model in the US could lead to our economy falling behind more of our global competitors.”

Not heeding that warning, and taking money away from this infrastructural investment, Sen. John McCain’s idea of a gas tax "holiday" giving low-income Americans "just a little break this summer" demonstrates the myth of the “fiscal conservative.”

A fellow for the Cato Institute called the proposal a "holiday from reality." Drivers would save a whole $2.35 every time they filled their tanks, or, about $30 over the summer.

Craig Thompson of Madison, executive director of the Transportation Development Association of Wisconsin wrote in a Wisconsin State Journal editorial “We don't need a gas tax holiday; the federal government would see an $8.5 billion loss in fuel tax receipts. The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials estimates that such a cut could result in the reduction of nearly 300,000 jobs.”

The question you will have to answer is “who will spend your tax dollars wisely.” Wisely is the key word and frame. The assumption right now is that it’s always wasted.

Once we return to the business of government (remember it is a business), we will expect the management of that government to be responsible and accountable.

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