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Obama Trip To Bridge, "Latest Prop" For Stimulus Tour | Missouri Political News Service

Obama Trip To Bridge, “Latest Prop” For Stimulus Tour

September 22nd, 2011 by mopns · No Comments

Reuters reports today, “A dilapidated bridge over the Ohio River becomes the latest prop in President Barack Obama’s push for jobs on Thursday as he takes a campaign for more spending into the backyard of his political foes. The Brent Spence Bridge, connecting the home states of the two top Republicans in Congress, is a vital traffic route between northern Kentucky and Cincinnati, Ohio. Republicans have mocked Obama’s trip as political theater. But the 830-foot bridge has been officially designated as ‘functionally obsolete’ and Obama hopes it will help him illustrate why Congress should back billions of dollars in job-creating infrastructure investment.”

Yet locals are seeing the visit for the politically motivated “photo-op” that it is. WKRC-TV, the Cincinnati CBS affiliate, notes, “Since the presidential visit was announced last week, there have been complaints that it’s more about politics, and getting votes in next year’s election.” Yesterday, The Cincinnati Enquirer reported, “The fact that the Brent Spence Bridge sits squarely between the home states of House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky is not just a coincidence — it’s the reason for the president’s visit on Thursday, a White House spokesman said.” An Enquirer headline this morning says of the bridge, “It’s prop for jobs bill.” It further refers to the bill as “a nice backdrop for a speech” and points to transportation expert Joshua Schank calling the speech as a “photo-op in a presidential election season . . . .” Even NBC News’ Chuck Todd acknowledged, “[T]he setting is what the White House cares about,” and correspondent Kristen Welker agreed: “It’s all about the setting right now . . . . The president’s going to use it as a backdrop to try to sell his jobs plan . . . .” Welker then held up the front page of The Cincinnati Enquirer, which reads, “Obama visit won’t build new bridge.”

In the story, The Enquirer explains, “A presidential visit is a big deal, but will it actually guarantee funding for the aged and overused Brent Spence Bridge? Not really, say transportation experts and highway officials. That’s not how highway funding works. . . . First, there’s the president’s jobs bill, which is the reason for his trip. In his joint address to Congress on Sept. 8, Obama called on Congress to immediately pass his plan. But the bill has received a lukewarm reception on the Hill, where even Democrats haven’t rallied around it. The bill itself contains no mention of the Brent Spence bridge, or any other specific projects. Even if the bill is passed, it’s not clear funding included in the bill for stimulus or the creation of a national infrastructure bank would ever reach the bridge.” And Joshua Schank, “CEO of the Eno Transportation Foundation and an urban planner who has been working on federal and state transportation policy for the last decade,” told The Enquirer, “No, I don’t see (the president’s visit) getting funding for the bridge. . . . Where they do the photo-op in a presidential election season usually doesn’t have much value in terms of directing the money.”

The White House even admitted to The Enquirer that money for the bridge isn’t guaranteed in the president’s stimulus bill. “‘No, no, no. It doesn’t name (the bridge),’ Pfeiffer said, explaining that the money would go to states and communities to use as they see fit.”

Fox 19 in Ohio published a story yesterday titled, “Reality Check: Someone needs to tell the President the Brent Spence Bridge is not shovel ready.” The story points out, “Even if 100 percent of the funding was in place, meaning the Feds picked up the tab for the entire project, the Brent Spence project is still, at minimum, 4 years away from breaking ground. That is because federal environmental studies are still not complete. . . . Remember when the President referred to the last stimulus projects saying they ‘weren’t as shovel ready as he had hoped?’ Well, this may be another example of the same problem. A bridge that needs replacement but has more than just a funding problem.” And even former Democrat Ohio Governor Ted Strickland agreed on Fox & Friends this morning when Gretchen Carlson noted that people say “that bridge does not even qualify as a shovel ready project.”


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