Creating American Jobs; Now and in the Future
Tit for Tat: a modern slang term essentially holing the meaning “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.” This month, Capitol Hill has a chance to scratch the preverbal back or their political counterparts, while giving the American people a full session of physical therapy. Patriotslog.com has recently explained in detail why the American Jobs Act created by President Obama is a current need of our nation. Our nation needs jobs, and our infrastructure needs attention. As the President campaigns his jobs bill around the country, the Republican opposition is telling Americans that we need a different kind of fix: regulatory reform. They claim the government cannot create private sector jobs, and putting people to work on our infrastructure will not help. Who is right? They both are. The current debate in Washington is not a right or wrong, my side or your side contest; quite the opposite. Both sides are arguing a completely different point, and there is no reason why both cannot be given what they want.
The American Jobs Act needs to be passed. My home state of Kentucky is a perfect illustration of that. Last week in Louisville, our states biggest city, one of the 3 main bridges, the Sherman Minton Bridge, was closed due to cracks in its foundation. We have heard estimates of 6 months to 3 years before it can be repaired and reopened. The Sherman Minton is not the only traffic problem in Louisville; in fact, it only compounds the problems. All three bridges in Louisville are 45 years old or more, and while the Sherman Minton is closed, the other two bridges—the Clark Memorial Bridge, and the Kennedy Memorial Bridge—are both rated structurally deficient, functionally obsolete, or both. In fact, 1/3 of all Kentucky bridges are in need of major repair. Structurally deficient is a classification by the Department of Transportation which indicates a bridge is in need of major repair, renovation, or replacement. In Louisville, the Sherman Minton Bridge shutdown only means that its nearly 60,000 travelers per day will be re-routed to the structurally deficient and functionally obsolete Clark Memorial and Kennedy Memorial Bridges. These bridges have already been long over their recommended capacity, and now will face even greater strain. Emergency shoulders have been removed to make extra lanes, where vehicles now drive inches from the edge of the bridges. Because patriotslog is unbiased and objective I want to make it clear that I am not picking a side, only supporting what is right for our nation. So the other side of the story must be told also. Structurally deficient or functionally obsolete bridges are not necessarily dangerous; they do not carry a “bridge death penalty” so to speak which the Obama administration seems to be advertising. Any bridge rated above a 45 is still “safe”, which the Kennedy Memorial and Clark Memorial Bridges are. However, the now closed Sherman Minton was too; even being rated higher than the Clark Memorial Bridge. So we can be sure of two things: just because a bridge is structurally deficient or functionally obsolete does not mean it is dangerous. Second, we know from the Sherman Minton Bridge that just because a bridge is “safe” does not mean it is safe, as cracks were found in the foundation. So how safe are our bridges? By definition they are fine, by experience of the Sherman Minton; fine can really mean they are literally crumbling.
Our three Louisville bridges are not the only infrastructure problems our state is combatting. Spaghetti Junction, which leads into and out of the Louisville side of the bridges, is in shocking condition. It is reported that there are on average 2 accidents every day within its spider web or overpasses, underpasses, and merges. The road conditions themselves are terrible. Uneven pavement, potholes, and disintegrating cement seem more common than a stretch of road in good condition. Driving inside Spaghetti Junction, one is in constant fear of a flat tire. Every morning I drive down Interstate 71 into Louisville through Spaghetti Junction, so I can confidently make these statements from personal experience. This brings me to I-71. I-71 is the major interstate route which connects Louisville to Cincinnati, 2 of the country’s most used trucking thoroughfares. It is also the Interstate in which the Kentucky Motor Speedway lies, the same speedway which received national attention for the traffic jam caused by the recent NASCAR race. Mercifully, I-71 has had major re-pavement projects all along its length, aided by federal funding. Until as little as 6 months ago, most of the road spanning Louisville and Cincinnati was as bad as or worse than Spaghetti Junction. I can remember driving home from the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport and refusing to get out of the inside lane, because the entire right side of the road was so bad I know it would ruin my tires. Driving into Louisville on I-71 was nearly as bad, until the re-pavement project was finished just last week. Thankfully, much of this road has been repaired, again, aided by federal funding. Follow I-71 up to Cincinnati for a Reds or Bengals game, and you will have to cross the Ohio River. If you happen to be driving across the Brent Spence Bridge you will find another troubled example of infrastructure in Kentucky. Not only does the Brent Spence Bridge service almost double its 85,000 person capacity, but it too is rated functionally obsolete. This is the bridge referred to by President Obama in his American Jobs Act speech, and as I write this, lanes are closed for maintenance, and the bridge needs major repair. I have no doubt Kentucky is not the only state which faces these problems. I am not suggesting that the American Jobs Act come save us from ourselves. The Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana state governments certainly need to share the costs of the maintenance, lowering the overall ticket of the American Jobs Act, but it is clear that the American Jobs Act is needed; particularly in rural, blue-collar states like Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana, where the recession has hit hard, causing large growth in unemployment.
What I do not understand is the Republican argument that the American Jobs Act will not create jobs. I would like to sit down with Mitch McConnell, Kentucky’s senior senator, and the senate minority leader—who has in the past taken advantage of government stimulus he now vehemently opposes—and have him explain to me how the government giving people jobs does not give people jobs. It is ludicrous to expect us to believe that making jobs will not make jobs. Now, I agree that the government cannot create private sector jobs by any means, even by regulatory reform the GOP is campaigning. As I have previously explained, tax breaks and regulatory reform will not create jobs if nobody has any money to spend on businesses. The importance of the American Jobs Act is that it employs workers, putting money in American wallets, which they can spend on businesses and create a need to hire. Then, as the projects from the American Jobs Act are wrapping up, these businesses will have a need to hire. This will not happen in a matter of weeks or months, but may take a year or two to take effect because of the length of time required to obtain a building permit for an American Jobs Act project. In this time interval, the Republicans can and should have their regulatory reform.
Over regulation of a free market creates a stagnant market, this has happened in America in recent years. If you put unreasonably harsh regulations and strict rules on businesses they will not be able to grow nearly as quickly as they ought to, because they have to fight the federal government to do it. This is wrong. I do not understand the debate in Washington over whether the Democrats or Republicans have the right economic plan. They act as if they are arguing heads or tails of a coin. In reality, they are both arguing heads of two different coins. We need both. The American Jobs Act addresses the immediate need to cope with unemployment and failing infrastructure. This will put money in pockets of workers who have no job right now, ergo allowing them to spend it at businesses. If nobody spends money at businesses, regulatory reform cannot help save them. Republican regulatory reform is a long term fix. Once money is being spent, which will be a latent cause of the American Jobs Act, regulatory reform will make it easier for businesses to grow and therefore, hire new workers. The economy will have a very hard time recovering and growing if it is overly regulated. Currently there are at least 13 bills passed by the House of Representatives awaiting an ear in the Senate. All of them focus on fixing over regulation, and helping businesses grow. The American people, and the American economy need regulatory reform just as badly as we need the American Jobs Act; please, tell your congressman and senators this. Republicans and Democrats do not need to fight, holding the country hostage. Who is right? Who has the plan to fix America? Which bill do we need to pass? Both of them. And the fact that they do not see that is as frustrating as their bickering.
17 September, 2011
Posted on September 17, 2011, in Patriotslog Articles, Politics and tagged American Jobs Act, Clark Memorial Bridge, construction, democrats, economy, I-71, infrastructure, Kennedy Memorial Bridge, President Obama, recovery, regulatory reform, republicans, Sherman Minton Bridge, stimulus, unemployment. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.