Friday, July 31, 2009

Republicans are now Whining About Shortage of Stimulus Spending on Bridges

Having just traveled across the country, I would say the stimulus money is being well spent on almost all of our nations highways. Road construction is everywhere. But because states are taking advantage of replacing and upgrading their roads with the help of federal dollars instead of state taxpayer money, Republicans are now looking for ways to take a different angle. Their plan: attack the successes of the stimulus by complaining bridges aren’t getting fixed.
AP - A top Republican congressman says the government needs a "kick in the pants" to get federal stimulus money focused on repairing dilapidated bridges.
Rep. John Mica, the senior Republican on the transportation committee, said he's frustrated that states are spending so much on routine paving and not focusing on shoring up tens of thousands of bad bridges. He said there's too much red tape involved in bridge projects.
But according to AP’s fact checking, Mica’s call for doing away with red tape may not be the best public policy:

Rep. John Duncan, R-Tenn., said "doing away with all the environmental restrictions" would speed up stimulus spending. That mischaracterizes both the stimulus and the environmental review process.

Since 1970, federally funded projects have required reviews to ensure they don't harm the environment, public health or safety. Environmental Restrictions prohibit developers from building highways in areas that would pollute drinking water or send water flooding into nearby basements. Eliminating those restrictions would eliminate the public right to review and object to projects before they're built.

It appears Rep. Duncan isn’t to keen on a public’s right to review or ensure that bridge and road construction eventually not harm the environment and adversely affect public health and safety? It’s just a lot of red tape.

Remember when Republicans opposed stimulus money for temporary infrastructure jobs, paring it back to around $46 billion out of the total $850 billion package in favor of tax cuts? I do too.

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