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Wash. Post Catches Obama Misleading About Ohio River Bridges And His Stimulus Proposals Yet Again | Missouri Political News Service

Wash. Post Catches Obama Misleading About Ohio River Bridges And His Stimulus Proposals Yet Again

May 1st, 2012 by mopns · No Comments

In a speech to the AFL-CIO which Dana Milbank called “a campaign rally in everything but name” yesterday, President Obama again tried to accuse Republicans of opposing the repair of bridges and repeated a widely debunked claim he made last fall that a stimulus bill he was promoting would have funded repairs to certain bridges over the Ohio River.

The Washington Post’s Fact Checker blog catches Obama trying this again and writes today, “Back in September, when President Obama first unveiled his jobs bill, we gave him Three Pinocchios for remarks he made regarding the aging Brent Spence Bridge on the Ohio River. The bridge connects Kentucky and Ohio, the home states of House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), and it was irresistible symbolism for the White House. . . . The administration could never explain what, if anything, the jobs bill would do to improve the Brent Spence Bridge, especially since construction was not slated to start until 2015 — and Obama’s jobs bill would spend most of its money in its first year. . . . Once again [President Obama on Monday] framed it as GOP opposition to fixing the Brent Spence Bridge. But then he upped the ante by mentioning other bridges ‘between Kentucky and Ohio’ that ‘don’t work.’  So what’s he talking about?”

According to the Fact Checker, “An administration official said the president was referring to the Sherman Minton Bridge, which actually connects Indiana and Kentucky, near Louisville. Back in September, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) had to shut down the bridge because a 2 ½ inch crack had been discovered. . . . Shortly after the shutdown, a Transportation Department blog declared that this bridge was ‘another example of why this [the president’s jobs bill] is so crucial.’ But here’s the rub: While Obama claimed ‘these bridges don’t work,’ the Sherman Minton Bridge has already been repaired, ahead of schedule, and motorists are driving over it again. It turned out that, rather than being an example of an aging bridge, the crack that had been discovered actually had been there ever since the bridge was constructed in 1962, because of the type of steel used at the time. Other repairs were ordered, and the bridge reopened nearly three months ago — without needing any of Obama’s jobs-bill funds. Another nearby bridge, the Kennedy Bridge, will soon undergo redecking, but officials said the work will not lead to a shutdown. Again, the work is being done without Obama’s jobs-bill money.”

It’s worth recalling that when President Obama first brought up these bridges last September, he went to Ohio and gave a speech in front of one, the Brent Spence, to argue for his new stimulus spending. In an article titled, “Experts Say Obama’s Visit Won’t Help Bridge,” the Cincinnati Enquirer explained, “The bill itself contains no mention of the Brent Spence bridge, or any other specific projects.” And the Los Angeles Times noted, “Oops, Obama touts his jobs plan today at an Ohio bridge that won’t qualify.”

Of course, the whole event was political from the start, with Politico writing that “the president’s staff acknowledged the political nature of his own trip — and their hope that he will benefit from it.” MSNBC’s Chuck Todd said the day of the speech, “The campaign has begun.”

Another important fact to remember is that the new stimulus bill Obama was selling at the time had bipartisan opposition and wound up failing to get cloture in the Senate.

Slapping the president with “Four Pinocchios,” for his new reference to these bridges, The Washington Post Fact Checker concludes, “Calling out the Republicans at the Brent Spence bridge was bad enough, given the bipartisan support for its reconstruction. But pointing to the Sherman Minton Bridge, which already has been repaired without funding from the president’s jobs bill, is ridiculous. Perhaps the president was using outdated talking points, but that’s little excuse. Given that the president earned Three Pinocchios before, we have little choice but to up the ante this time.”


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