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.
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!