Republican presidential candidates have attempted to make their 2012 effort to unseat President Obama about the economy, but time and time again, they have proven unwilling to address the major crises threatening the future of America’s economic growth. At multiple debates, the candidates offered little in the way of how they would address the fiscal crisis engulfing Europe and failed to understand the driving factors behind it. They offered no solutions to the American housing crisis, even as millions of homeowners face foreclosure and prices continue to fall. In sum, their policies would warrant a failing grades in an Econ 101 class.
Now, with evidence piling up that America’s infrastructure is failing on multiple fronts, the candidates are again offering no long-term plans for the nation’s transportation or infrastructure programs, Politico reports:
Though the words “crumbling infrastructure” have become almost cliché in the American lexicon, candidates’ websites are barren of transportation plans, save for expansion of domestic energy production. Only Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) delves into infrastructure policy at all in his Web platform, proposing to privatize the FAA, abolish TSA and halve the Department of Transportation’s budget. DOT should consider itself lucky it’s not one of the five departments Paul would eliminate as president.
POLITICO reached out to all seven of the Republican 2012 campaigns; none chose to flesh out infrastructure positions.
The GOP may choose to ignore the many problems facing America’s infrastructure, but those problems aren’t going away. Economists estimated in 2011 that the United States would need more than $2 trillion in investments just to bring its infrastructure up to date. Roughly one-quarter of America’s bridges are considered “structurally deficient” or “functionally obsolete,” the same rating given to the Minneapolis bridge that collapsed and killed 13 in 2007.
The nation’s water infrastructure — perhaps even more important that its transportation infrastructure — is in similarly dire shape, as the Washington Post reported today. The country needs more than $650 billion to update its water and sewer systems, many of which are more than 100 years old. In D.C., the average water pipe is 77 years old (many were built in the 19th century) and emergency crews fix 450 leaks a year. The cost of such problems has been passed on to consumers, whose water bills have grown by 50 percent in just four years.
Intransigence on infrastructure planning is hardly unique to the party’s presidential candidates. Congressional Republicans have repeatedly opposed infrastructure investment plans since Obama took office, including the most recent attempt in the American Jobs Act, even as the problems hit close to home for GOP leadership. In four of five states represented by party leaders, bridge deficiency outpaces the national average. A major bridge closure in Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R) home state has gridlocked traffic since early September.
With borrowing costs low and the nation’s unemployment rate high, infrastructure improvement projects can fix the major problems facing our nation’s roads, bridges, and water systems while putting people back to work and reinvigorating the American economy. Unfortunately, the GOP’s presidential candidates have chosen instead to pretend the problems don’t exist.