While conservative governments in other parts of the world, such as the United Kingdom, have (now) fully supported a strong investment in infrastructure, seeing it as central to the economic recovery of the nation, the conservatives in the United States (well, most of them anyway) have run on platforms to squash spending, at the expense of jobs and economic recovery. Since, chances are, the American House of Representatives will be going red today, let’s get to know our future Speaker of the House John Boehner, current House Minority Leader and Republican from Ohio.
The representative from Ohio is pro-infrastructure—let’s face it, he has to be considering the state’s highways and byways have more craters than the moon—and supports improving roads as well as water and sewer infrastructure. These improvements are necessary. Most of the water and sewer infrastructure in this country is reaching its horizon and is in need of repair and replacement, both for public health and to accommodate growing urban populations.
However, Boehner’s not a fan of livable communities or public transportation. He’s made it known that he and his party would block funding towards high speed rail. In fact, New Jersey governor Chris Christie has already set this ball in motion. High speed rail, already utilized in Europe and Japan, is considered the future of transportation and would improve commuter times on the east coast and in central commuter rail hubs nationwide. With more people, particularly the younger generation, moving to cities and preferring trains to automobiles, this may prove to be a giant kick to our own groins.
Next on the chopping block are bike and walking paths and beautification projects. Though Boehner supports widening highways to ease congestion, he doesn’t support improving bike infrastructure. Bike infrastructure would also ease congestion and make commuting safer for cyclists and motorists alike. Plus, it would get at the heart, or in this case the fat, of that pesky obesity problem in America. Treehugger quotes him as saying, “I think there’s a place for infrastructure, but what kind of infrastructure? Infrastructure to widen highways, to ease congestion for American families? Is it to build some buildings that are necessary? But if we’re talking about beautification projects, or we’re talking about bike paths, Americans are not going to look very kindly on this.” Americans or just your party—the party of ‘no’ who had no problem spending trillions in Iraq and Afghanistan, but can’t justify an investment that would put Americans to work and improve the physical and economic health of the country?
Apparently Boehner and company only want to slim the budget, not the waistlines of Americans, who continue to grow fatter and fatter each year, driving up health costs due to preventable diseases like diabetes. American politics becomes more interesting with each passing year.