Support Bridges, Not War: a Clear Question of Priorities


When we quickly painted these banners back in early August for the president's impromptu visit to survey the I-35W bridge collapse, we knew there was a chance we could get them in front of Bush's motorcade. (As it turned out, we were able to successfully unfurl one under his helicopters too!)


We had no idea, however, that only 3 months later, Bush and his cronies in Congress would actually VETO the money needed to rebuild this critical bridge that, before its collapse, spanned the Mississippi River into Minneapolis. Incredibly enough, our banner proved prescient in foreseeing the clash of priorities when, just last week, 137 of Bush's best Republican rubberstamps, including Minnesota's own two right-wing Representatives John Kline and (Bush-smooching) Michele Bachmann, voted to sustain Bush's veto of the Transportation Bill over their own constituents' interest in rebuilding the 35 W Bridge.

John Kline's attempt afterward on a Twin Cites public TV program (click "Congressional Tussle..." segment) to justify his vote against funding for the collapsed bridge, presumably on behalf of Bachmann and the other right-wing Republicans, takes the prize for arrogance. What gives when Kline and company voted for a Republican crony's "Bridge to Nowhere" in Alaska just two years ago but refuse to vote now for a bridge to somewhere in Minnesota? Democratic freshman Congressman Tim Walz, although he seemed fairly exasperated, did a credible job of questioning this strange set of Republican priorities, especially their support for funding of bridges in Iraq while not supporting funding for bridges in their home state.

What perhaps was most outrageous in John Kline's diatribe was his lame attempt to explain his veto of the transportation and bridge funding because it cost $3 billion too much. "Runaway spending" Kline intoned several times with fake alarm and little worry that Minnesotans might wonder why HE gets to lecture on "fiscal responsibility" when he ardently supports the spending of that $3 billion sum each and every week for Bush to "stay the course" in Iraq. With the longer-term cost (over ten years) of the Iraq War now estimated at approximately $2 trillion, it's amazing in and of itself that Kline and other war proponents still call themselves "fiscal conservatives"! To paraphrase an astute comment on one of my prior HuffPosts: "please remind me again what it is the "conservatives" are conserving?"

Kline and the other 137 Republican representatives who voted to sustain Bush's veto of the transportation bill apparently just can't tell the truth, that they are NOT fiscally conservative at all, that they are perhaps prepared to spend, without batting an eyelash, double or even triple the 2 trillion dollars that Bush's Iraq fiasco has already cost.

With Thanksgiving only a couple days away, many people, whether it's by plane, train or automobile, will be using some form of our transportation infrastructure. I hate to tell Kline and his buddies that people don't necessarily need to see our bright red banners to grasp the awful truth that bridges may collapse and not be rebuilt because these Republicans just don't care--their priorities really are limited to one thing: a needless war.