Bill Straub: Roads, bridges, is that socialism? No member of the KY House votes for the infrastructure bill

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So old Tom Jefferson was as red as Trotsky. Who believed him?

At least that is the only reasonable conclusion that can be drawn from the remarks of that perennial backbench MP, Rep. Andy Barr, R-Lexington, regarding the 1 , $ 2 trillion which he opposed, a bipartisan measure that was eventually passed. Congress last week after months of wrangling.

The spending plan covers a large part of the territory, ranging from improving rapidly deteriorating roads to modernizing public transport and extending Internet access. It even includes a layout that offers the option to replace that old wreck, the Brent Spence Bridge, crossing the Ohio River connecting Covington to Cincinnati.

This is the kind of bill that, at least in a healthy political climate, almost any member of Congress could support. Of course, a majority of Republicans, anxious to give President Biden any credit for pushing through popular legislation, voted against, including the five members of the Kentucky GOP House. Unsurprisingly, this march, speaking of national embarrassment, Rep. Thomas Massie, R-SomewhereorotherLewisCounty, cast his spell in opposition, even though Spence Bridge is in his district.


NKyTribune Washington columnist Bill Straub was the Frankfurt bureau chief for the Kentucky Post for 11 years. He is also the former White House political correspondent for Scripps Howard News Service. A member of the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame, he currently resides in Silver Spring, Maryland, and writes frequently on federal government and politics. Email him at [email protected]

Barr stands out with his vote no, not because it was unexpected – being a good boy, he will do what the party leadership dictates – but because of his logic – it’s socialism.

“In the dead of Friday night, Democrats rushed to adopt their big government socialist program,” Barr explained via Twitter. “I voted no to protect hardworking Kentuckians from the biggest tax, borrowing and spending package in American history.”

How brave.

Representative Hal Rogers, R-Somerset, whose southeastern Kentucky has as much infrastructure need as anywhere else in the country, also pulled out the map of socialism for no other reason than to scare people by explaining its no.

“There is a better way to serve the American people,” Rogers said without explaining how. “We must not only repair the infrastructure of our country, we must also repair the confidence deficit which continues to grow with socialist projects like this.”

If you haven’t noticed, self-proclaimed conservatives like Andy Barr and Hal Rogers have started to define everything they are against socialism. Whether it’s mustard or ketchup on a hot dog or the designated hitter, lawmakers immediately defend their position by claiming the other side represents socialism.

It’s rather childish when you think about it for even a millisecond. The idea is to throw the buzzword and hope that those who are listening react as if they are watching a particularly bloody scene from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

In fact, federal spending on roads is almost as old as the republic itself, years before Marx and Engels plotted against capitalism. In 1806, Congress passed and President Jefferson signed a law creating the National Highway, which, in its first incarnation from 1811 to 1837, stretched 620 miles from Cumberland MD to Vandalia, IL. It was the first and obviously not the last time that the federal government funded a road construction project.

Jefferson, who was generally not enthusiastic about large federal spending, nonetheless promoted the route to support western expansion and unify a nation in its infancy. But like today, the project was not without detractors.

According to National Geographic Society:

“The construction of a federal highway, however, was controversial when Congress approved it. Many statesmen could not justify the expense, as at that time canals and rivers had proven to be effective for transportation. More importantly, people questioned the idea that the federal government should fund a causeway. They wondered if the Constitution allowed it.

Today, according to National Geographic, federal highways “are the backbone of the country’s infrastructure.” So imagine for a moment that the Andy Barrs of the early 1800s had prevailed, citing everything that passed for socialism at the time, and the national highway, and subsequent federal highways, were never built.

And consider, if Biden and Jefferson are socialists, then Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell of Louisville can be expected to step down from the upper house to become the supreme leader of the politburo. It should be noted that McConnell gave his blessing to Sen. Rob Portman, R-OH and other moderate Conservatives in the House to work with Majority Democrats on an infrastructure bill that both sides could support. And when the time was right, McConnell followed and voted for the package.

“We have a lot of infrastructure needs, both in rural areas and with big bridges,” McConnell told WKYT-TV, of Lexington, during a tour of the AppHarvest food facility in Morehead. “It’s a godsend for Kentucky.”

And, for what it’s worth, Barr’s reference to “the biggest tax, borrowing, and spending package in American history” doesn’t hold water. The package uses unspent COVID-19 funds and federal UI assistance that some states no longer accept. The rest comes from various caches, including sales of oil reserves.

To be fair, Barr wasn’t the only congressman from Kentucky to complain about the infrastructure bill.

“I voted NO to the $ 1.2 trillion infrastructure bill that passed Congress in the dark of the night,” Rep. James Comer, R-Tompkinsville said, repeating the comment stupid “dark of the night” used by Barr, showing that the talking points came from either the GOP House leadership or the Republican National Committee. “Less than 10% of the bill was for surface infrastructure, like roads and bridges, with large sums going to things that don’t affect Kentucky 1st District – like public transportation and green energy. . “

Rogers also intervened on the expenses, insisting that the plan was not sufficiently dedicated to basic needs.

“We are in desperate need of improvements to our infrastructure, especially in rural Kentucky, but the truth is that less than half of the new spending in this bill is going to real infrastructure projects, and this legislation is being used to coerce more members to vote for a much more destructive spending spree that puts our country on a fast track to socialism, ”he said.

Half or 10%? Make up your mind.

While difficult to pin down, traditional infrastructure spending in the bill is well above 10 percent. The package contains $ 550 billion more than the usual funding allocations included in the budget for infrastructure projects each year. Roads and bridges are receiving $ 110 billion in new money as part of the plan. railways receive $ 66 billion, airports $ 25 billion and ports $ 17 billion.

The additional funding includes money for upgrading the power grid and improving water systems. The $ 110 billion for roads and bridges is by far the most significant commitment in the plan.

GOP lawmakers have many bogus excuses to oppose a bill aimed at improving the country’s vital infrastructure needs. But you can bet on one thing – when the time comes to cut the ribbon on a brand new measure funded project, they’ll all attend the event with smiles and a pair of scissors to act like it’s their idea. in the first place.


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