The place to go if you want to track the media responses to our Twin Cities bridge disaster is Minnesota Monitor. There are regular updates as new information comes in.
If you’re looking to know where the responsibility is going to fall, Nick Coleman has the answers.
For half a dozen years, the motto of state government and particularly that of Gov. Tim Pawlenty has been No New Taxes. It’s been popular with a lot of voters and it has mostly prevailed. So much so that Pawlenty vetoed a 5-cent gas tax increase – the first in 20 years – last spring and millions were lost that might have gone to road repair. And yes, it would have fallen even if the gas tax had gone through, because we are years behind a dangerous curve when it comes to the replacement of infrastructure that everyone but wingnuts in coonskin caps agree is one of the basic duties of government.
I’m not just pointing fingers at Pawlenty. The outrage here is not partisan. It is general.
Both political parties have tried to govern on the cheap, and both have dithered and dallied and spent public wealth on stadiums while scrimping on the basics.
After citing that ghastly quote from Grover Norquist, “My goal is to cut government in half … to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub” (especially after Katrina, that quote deserves to be Norquist’s epitaph), Phoenixwoman seconds that suggestion:
It’s possible that delayed maintenance — delayed because of budget cuts, as the Republican Pawlenty would rather chop off his own genitals than undo his tax cuts for the rich — may have been a factor.
I think we can safely say that the Republican party platform has been a catastrophic and costly failure. Let’s hope one positive result from these recent disasters is that people realize that taxes ought to be used for investments in infrastructure rather than propping up the obscenely wealthy and funding wasteful foreign military adventures.
Spot makes an interesting observation: he reminds us that the Republican convention is in Minneapolis next summer. This disaster is not going to be corrected by then. Can we all remember to rub their noses in the debris when they come around?
Now we just need an opportunity to tell the Democrats that they’d better set their priorities appropriately, too.
Also read BldgBlog: Infrastructure is patriotic.
It’s interesting to point out, then, that the Federal Highway Administration’s annual budget appears to be hovering around $35-40 billion a year – and, while I’m on the subject, annual government subsidies for Amtrak come in at slightly more than $1 billion. That’s $1 billion every year to help commuter train lines run.
To use but one financial reference point, the U.S. government is spending $12 billion per month in Iraq – billions and billions of dollars of which have literally been lost.