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Monday, September 26, 2011

Obama went a bridge too far & got 3 Pinocchios

Obama’s strained symbolism at an Ohio River bridge By

The public schedule for the bridge, which can be found here, has the environmental approval scheduled for July 2012, just four months later than the administration’s “could” time frame. Construction is not slated to start until 2015, while the president’s jobs bill would spend most of its money in its first year.

But even if we grant the administration this tenuous connection between the bridge and the jobs bill, the larger issue is that Obama pointed to this bridge and suggested that Republicans are blocking its reconstruction with their opposition to his legislation. (“Mr. Boehner, Mr. McConnell, help us rebuild this bridge. . . . Pass this bill.”)

Nothing could be further from the truth. There is a long history of bipartisan support for action to fix this bridge, such as this 2009 study announced by Rep. Geoff Davis (R-Ky.) and then-Rep. Steve Driehaus (D-Ohio) to highlight the benefits of the bridge project.

Indeed, the biggest issue in starting the bridge reconstruction is not various approvals, but obtaining the nearly $3 billion needed to complete the reconstruction. There is not enough money under current highway formulas for the two states to do this by themselves. Davis, whose district contains the bridge, testified before Congress earlier this year about the need to solve the funding problem. “The Brent Spence Bridge is one example of a transportation mega-project that is critical infrastructure to the American economy,” he said.

The Pinocchio Test

This is symbolism run amok. The president certainly could have used the bridge to highlight the infrastructure crisis facing the United States. But he went a bridge too far by repeatedly suggesting that his jobs bill would immediately bring construction crews to this particular project — and that Republican lawmakers who long have pleaded for federal help on the bridge are now callously thwarting its repair.

Three Pinocchios


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