Friday, September 23, 2011

Mishap at the Brent Spence Bridge

The President visited Cincinnati yesterday, as we expect he and everyone else running for POTUS will do a lot for the next thirteen months or so.

His visit was to tell John Boehner and Mitch McConnell to fund the replacement of the Brent Spence Bridge, a famously sturdy but obsolete span that carries I-75 and I-71 from the Queen City to the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

The double-decker bridge is famous for being narrow and without breakdown lanes, though it is perhaps most famous for this slightly lame joke:

Q: Why is the northbound lane of the Brent Spence Bridge below the southbound lane?

A: So that Kentuckians returning home can drop their shoes to Kentuckians leaving home.

But really, why show up at this spot to call for more infrastructure spending to replace crumbling stuff and get the unemployed to work? As a local-government web site innocuously points out, planning for the bridge's replacement has been going on since 2002, and no one in Cincinnati thinks that anything will be done before 2015. There's not even a consensus on a plan for replacement, let alone a plan for what to do during construction. And since much of the regions critical infrastructure and many of its most expensive buildings are close to the span, there are good reasons to plan carefully and well.

So even the left is admitting that this is far from a "shovel-ready" project, "shovel-ready" having joined such political phrases as "Middle-East peace plan" in the lexicon of the politically oxymoronic.

Of course the bridge will be replaced. Certainly it won't be replaced absent a workable plan for replacement. The only significant question is whether it will be replaced with dollars borrowed, collected in still higher taxes, or collected at present or lower rates of taxation with concomitant reductions in other, lower-priority spending.

So why did the President make the trip? For the very reason that he sarcastically denied: to stir up his base in the home turf of two leading Capitol Hill Republicans. It's all part of his pitch for what James Taranto dubs "Stimulus, Jr.," the half a trillion (or roughly $1500 per American) that BHO proposes to subsidize unionized public employees and unionized highway workers at the expense of nonunionized taxpayers and all Americans' children.

Postscript: We note the Bushism in the President's speech: claiming that America built the "Intercontinental Railroad." Now that's a bridge!

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