MINNEAPOLIS BRIDGE COLLAPSE, BUSH DID IT - THE SUNDAY COMMENTARY
Of course this was sarcastic parody. First, please understand that I am not making light of the tremendous tragedy that has taken place and the terrible loss of life with the collapse of the Mississippi River bridge in Minneapolis, Minnesota. My goal is to make a point concerning the lunacy that has taken place in the immediate after math of the bridge collapse and since then on liberal web sites and from certain Democrats in Congress.
Within minutes following the tragic accident in Minneapolis liberal sites such as the Daily Kos were flooded with stories blaming President Bush and the war in Iraq for the collapse of the bridge. Claiming that if Bush had not plunged this country into Iraq and spent billions of dollars on the war the government money would have been spent on repairing the aged span over the Mississippi, thus preventing the collapse which took place last Wednesday.
Certain liberal Democrats in Congress such as Barney Franks soon jumped on the blame Bush and Iraq band wagon when he stated on Hardball with Chris Matthews that he would, "end the war in Iraq, " and use the money from the war while also raising taxes and spending both on America's infrastructure.
This lunacy from the left in blaming Bush and Iraq for everything that takes place in this country and around the world is not only ridiculous but getting out of control. In light of their lunatic claims concerning the Minneapolis bridge though, let's concentrate on the reality of the situation and the federal governments, especially Bush's, "supposed, " responsibility for the collapse of the I 35 bridge.
The events that lead up to the tragic collapse began years before President Bush even considered running for the Presidency much less taking office. The I 35 bridge is more than forty years old and has been a main thoroughfare between St. Paul and Minneapolis crossing the Mississippi River since its construction. This bridge is among more than 70, 000 throughout the country that had been deemed structurally deficient by bridge inspectors.
This classification does not necessarily mean that any bridge is on the verge of collapsing but because of age, use, maintenance schedules, stress tolerances, etc. the public would be best served if the 70, 000 bridges classified like the Minneapolis bridge were replaced or totally renovated in the near future.
The responsibility of replacing and maintaining these bridges including the Minneapolis bridge belongs to the state government in which the bridge is located not the President nor the federal government. Every State including Minnesota taxes every gallon of gas purchased by consumers with this tax supposedly used for state infrastructure which include bridge maintenance. The federal government also taxes gas for the same purpose with Congress having the reposnibility of apporpriating funds to the State as requested for infrastructure.
Now as in any government regulated tax, the actual use of that tax does not necessarily go for the purpose in which the tax is specified. Much of the tax that is acquired from the gas usage is earmarked for pet projects of State legislators as well as US Congressman rather than going to the maintenance and repair of the countries infrastructure. Either way the responsibility for the expenditure of these funds NEVER falls under the jurisdiction of the President.
Whether the collapse of the Minneapolis bridge could have been prevented is a question that will be asked by many during investigations and by the media both now and in the near future. But blaming Bush and the war in Iraq not only does not answer the question but is an attempt to transfer the blame or the reasons for the collapse with the intent of politicizing a national tragedy.
If the war funding were stopped I can guarantee that Congress would NOT spend the funds on the nations infrastructure. Congress appropriates funding and by Constitutional law it is their responsibility as to which direction that funding goes. As an example before leaving for their summer recess Congress appropriated 250 million dollars for the replacement of the Minneapolis bridge.
The lack of spending on the nations infrastructure on both the state and the federal level is the failure of the Congress and not the President and it is a failure that extends over decades not just a recent development. The problem that we face now is that the cost of repairing and/or replacing the infrastructure is escalating along with construction costs. This could have been avoided to a certain extent if the monies had been appropriated and contracted by State legislatures and the US Congress before the decline of the infrastructure.
Maintenance is always less expensive than replacement. Replacement before a tragedy can occur when warnings are issued is also more expedient that blaming after the fact. Now we are faced with the possibility of the tragedy in Minneapolis being repeated throughout the country because of neglect.
Now is not the time to politicize this tragedy like Franks and other Democrats are trying to do. The war nor the President have nothing to do with the years of neglect both on the State and federal level. It is not to late to re-evaluate the funding and make the appropriate changes necessary to insure that this type of tragedy does not occur 70, 000 times over the next several years.
Raising taxes which many Democrats are proposing is not the answer either. The money is there from existing gas and road usage taxes if it is appropriated properly. State legislators and US Congressman must stop playing politics and set aside pet project earmarks, thus using already existing funds and future funds raised through existing taxation to repair the nations infrastructure. The memory of the victims of the Minneapolis tragedy demand it. Respect for the families of the victims requires it.