Video: Obama uses false bridge-collapse argument to argue for more taxes

posted at 1:36 pm on April 19, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

The headline really doesn’t do justice to the actual offensive nature of this video from today’s town hall in Annandale. Obama keeps mentioning “potholes” on roads, but unless he’s referring to interstate highways, the federal government doesn’t fix potholes. To the extent that it funds pothole repair, those funds come from drafting taxes from people where local and state taxes could have been raised instead, and more local control and prioritization of pothole repair would result in better service, rather than wait to see whose Congressman can get their pork put ahead of another’s.

But being from Minneapolis, the implication that the St. Anthony Falls bridge collapse in August 2007 had to do with infrastructure spending isn’t just ignorant of basic civics, it’s downright false and offensive (via Greg Hengler):

Remember when that bridge in Minnesota collapsed with all those people on it? And there was a big hue and cry, “How can this happen in America?” Well, the National Society of Engineers — they looked around and they give us a D when it comes to infrastructure.

The bridge collapse occurred because of a design defect, a conclusion reached by the National Transportation Safety Board. The bridge was designed and built in an era when engineers thought that redundant systems were both unnecessary and inefficient.  Gusset plates installed at the time of the bridge’s building were too thin, and without any redundancy to account for a major failure on a single point, it was a tragedy waiting to happen from day 1.  It had nothing to do with any lack of maintenance, and in fact collapsed because of scheduled maintenance to the deck that inadvertently destabilized it to the point of collapse.

It’s dishonest in the extreme to use this tragedy as an argument that we neglected our infrastructure, and ghoulish to use the dead for a false political point.  Obama should be ashamed of himself.

Update: Give CBS credit for blowing a whistle on Obama’s dishonesty (via Jim Geraghty):

Mr. Obama noted that the United States has been given a “D” grade for its infrastructure and said U.S. roads and bridges are “deteriorating.” He added: “We cut transportation by another third and what’s going to happen to America? We’re just going to have potholes everywhere? We’re just gonna have bridges collapsing everywhere?”

While experts say America’s aging infrastructure is a significant problem, the bridge collapse in Minnesota, which killed 13 people, was found to have been caused primarily by a design flaw.

Update II: I wrote earlier that “architects” designed the bridge, but engineers design and build bridges.  I’ve corrected it above.

Update III: Peter Wehner says to expect more of these kinds of dishonest arguments in the future from Obama.  Hope and change, baby!


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Obama should be ashamed of himself.

Tschah, not likely: that’s a sensation he seems never to have felt (at least, not before his countrymen).

Tzetzes on April 19, 2011 at 3:54 PM

To be more precise, architects do design bridges insofar as it is the architect that draws the pictures of what it should look like. Engineers make sure those ‘designs’ work.

bains on April 19, 2011 at 3:59 PM

Why do we need the Federal government to build roads and bridges anyway? The interstate highway system is finished. It’s time to end Federal highway funding. States can do it.

But Obama is saying that your local and state governments don’t care whether people get killed in a bridge collapse.

Kohath on April 19, 2011 at 3:59 PM

Tschah, not likely: that’s a sensation he seems never to have felt (at least, not before his countrymen).

Tzetzes on April 19, 2011 at 3:54 PM

NPD’d ones never do.

Schadenfreude on April 19, 2011 at 4:43 PM

But Obama is saying that your local and state governments don’t care whether people get killed in a bridge collapse.

Kohath on April 19, 2011 at 3:59 PM

He’s saying Obama can decide whose bridge is important better than we can. And you know what happens with that big pile of money? It goes to folks who give to Democrats.

hawksruleva on April 19, 2011 at 4:47 PM

Actually, Ed, it wasn’t a “design flaw.” There was nothing wrong with the design.

As my BIL, a bridge inspector, explained to me, the design called for 1-inch gusset plates, but when they constructed the bridge they used 1/2-inch plates instead. Those smaller plates were actually sufficient for the traffic load at the time.

But then two lanes were added to the bridge, and when it collapsed, there was heavy construction equipment on it. The half-inch plates couldn’t handle the load, though the one-inchers could have. Had they followed the design from the outset, the bridge never would have collapsed.

Any inspectors who looked at the bridge would not have had the original plans in hand; they’d only look at the gusset plates and see if they showed signs of undue stress.

So of course, the government is now mandating the inspection of every damned gusset plate in the country, perhaps even with load-testing of the plates, which gives my BIL a lot of extra work but none of it necessary (and some of it dangerous).

When what should have happened is for the construction to have gone according to design. None of which, incidentally, was the result of a lack of federal gubmint involvement.

dicentra63 on April 19, 2011 at 4:50 PM

Is it an Obamateurism if he flat out lies?

Rocks on April 19, 2011 at 4:54 PM

Ozero is morally reprehensible and intellectually dishonest. To say this to student, who probably believe what he’s saying, is outrageous.

He’s saying America is a 3rd world country

Kini on April 19, 2011 at 5:10 PM

Why do we need the Federal government to build roads and bridges anyway? The interstate highway system is finished. It’s time to end Federal highway funding. States can do it.

Kohath on April 19, 2011 at 3:59 PM

I really don’t agree. Interstates are always in disrepair. Some states are worse than others.
If you do something like that, you would end up screwing up our infrastructure & the ability to transport goods across the country.
Manufacturers & food distribution centers are much more centralized now, so goods are coming from a long way a lot of the time.
And besides the rails, they get here by semi.
States cannot always handle fixing the roads.
But the road $$ needs to be spent wisely.
I know that doesn’t happen.
Plus you need to consider for instance very rural states like WY cannot do this on their own with their tax base.
And WY is sorta like a transportation hub for a lot fo the country.

dicentra63 on April 19, 2011 at 4:50 PM

Thanks for the perspective!

Badger40 on April 19, 2011 at 5:17 PM

Obama also stated (in his Q and A) that one of the big infrastructure reasons companies weren’t staying or coming to the US was our lack of high speed rail.
Wow. That is seriously moronic.

Missy on April 19, 2011 at 3:19 PM

Great opportunities for parody if we follow these leaps of leftist illogic. Pretty soon everything sacred to the Left is caught up in a ludicrous web of interconnected doom and salvation — global warming to amnesty to gun control. An incoherent world. But who cares? Not the media. And seemingly not the GOP.

rrpjr on April 19, 2011 at 6:05 PM

‘raising taxes on the rich’, did ya notice he took every deduction his accountant could find? All these people whining that rich people want to feel patriotic and pay higher taxes are full of it.

Kissmygrits on April 19, 2011 at 6:16 PM

The bridge collapse occurred because of a design defect, a conclusion reached by the National Transportation Safety Board.

Is this the same NTSB that is a department of the Executive Branch of the federal government?

CurtZHP on April 19, 2011 at 7:30 PM

It’s dishonest in the extreme to use this tragedy as an argument that we neglected our infrastructure, and ghoulish to use the dead for a false political point. Obama should be ashamed of himself.

First off, Dem’s are allowed to say anything, regardless of lack of fact or degree of offensiveness. You know that.

But more to the point, I seriously doubt that he’s capable of being ashamed of himself – we’ve certainly never, ever, seen any hint of it until now, so I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for it…

bofh on April 19, 2011 at 8:41 PM

I won’t hold my breath waiting for the LSM to hold him accountable for his false statements. One question I would ask him, “Where do all the funds go from the Highway Trust Fund?” We pay gasoline taxes, road use taxes, taxes on tires, plus individual state taxes, where does all this money go? You can bet the Democrats do the same thing with those funds that they did with Social Security Funds.

bflat879 on April 19, 2011 at 10:26 PM

Obama, like a good communist at heart, knows that skillful lying, with a sincere & folksy manner, works – it got him elected. I think he’ll keep lying.

Chessplayer on April 20, 2011 at 7:31 AM

great post, Ed. I missed it yesterday. Falsely expanding the argument from a “design flaw” to demagogue “infrastructure” is absolutely dishonest. While infrastructure, in toto, can also have “design flaws,” fallaciously linking a singular design flaw and subsequent collapse doesn’t logically extend the same flaw, and risk of collapse, to “infrastructure” writ large. Nice work

ted c on April 20, 2011 at 8:21 AM

Peter Wehner says to expect more of these kinds of dishonest arguments in the future from Obama. Hope and change, baby!

That is, CHANGE the facts…and HOPE nobody notices!!!

landlines on April 20, 2011 at 10:59 AM

It’s dishonest in the extreme to use this tragedy as an argument that we neglected our infrastructure, and ghoulish to use the dead for a false political point. Obama should be ashamed of himself.

Narcisists are uniquely incapable of shame. It is always someone else’s fault, and part of the conspiracy.

BobMbx on April 20, 2011 at 12:19 PM

where does all this money go?
bflat879 on April 19, 2011 at 10:26 PM

Well EAJA funds are certainly a mystery to all but those whose lives are affected by the lawsuit-hungry ‘environmental’ groups.
I imagine a lot of other ‘Funds’ are unaccounted for in much the same way.
How often is highway fund $$ spent on something totally unrelated?
I truly doubt anyone knows.

Badger40 on April 20, 2011 at 2:12 PM

Update III: Peter Wehner says to expect more of these kinds of dishonest arguments in the future from Obama. Hope and change, baby!

It’s all he has!

ladyingray on April 21, 2011 at 9:41 AM

So leftist, luddite garbage will get out of the way of building a new Stillwater bridge, which most experts say IS about ready to come down.

Right?

MNHawk on April 21, 2011 at 9:59 AM

When all you have is class warfare and racial hatred, why should lies and deceptions be any problem. When it comes to real issues, if its not on the teleprompter, they don’t exist. This guy is an international laughingstock and the only ones who believe his swill are the mentally challenged lemmings he has been able to brainwash.

volsense on April 21, 2011 at 11:02 AM

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