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Emerald1943 On August - 3 - 2011
Cindy Moses, project manager with the Kansas C...

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Good morning, Planeteers!

I trust you all are doing okay, having come through all this angst. Now that Congress is on their five-week PAID vacation, we can all step back a little and take a deep breath. They can’t do much damage while they’re gone!

But not to worry…they will be back with another fake crisis soon enough!

And there are a couple of things that come to mind immediately. Maybe we should take this Congressional break time to put our strategy together to put pressure on these “do-nothing” jerks to start working for their REAL bosses, the US taxpayer!

1. Infrastructure – The President came out strongly yesterday to put infrastructure repair and jobs at the top of the agenda. I received an email on this topic that listed several good sources of information, including a report by the US Army Corps of Engineers. Some are a little lengthy but interesting if you want to get down into the weeds a bit. (Scroll down for links.)

2. Funding of the FAA – This is a no-brainer, folks. It’s hard to believe that Congress would go blithely on their way to take five weeks of paid vacation while millions of Americans remain without jobs. But then, what else would we expect from Boehner’s Teabagger buddies who care NOTHING for working families?

Regarding the FAA, I’m sure most of you have seen the issue popping up on the MSM. Almost 95 million people are being thrown out of work and 200 construction sites at American airports are shut down. The government is losing tax revenue at the rate of $30 million per day, and it is reported that this lack of action by Congress could cost us $1.2 billion by the time our well-tanned and rested lawmakers make their way back to Washington after Labor Day.

Congress has, once again, been derelict in their duty by failing to fund the FAA…and the worst part of this issue is that the safety of the flying public hangs in the balance. Safety inspectors are still working without pay and placing their travel expenses on personal credit cards, but they cannot be expected to do this forever.

While one problem (the FAA) is more immediate, it ties in with long-term infrastructure investment and jobs. Many of our airports are sadly antiquated and need improvements. Roads and bridges are crumbling from under us. Schools are falling down around our students’ ears. Construction workers, by the millions, are begging for work. As I said, this should be a no-brainer. But in this current political climate, we will have to push Congress to make funds available.

Much has been said about America’s ability to compete in a global marketplace. Business needs investment in infrastructure…good roads, high-speed rail, an improved power grid, broad band, and tech-improved modern airports. This, unfortunately, is just the kind of expenditure that the rethugs would cut right now in their deficit-cutting mania, but this is one problem that they cannot push off on already strained state budgets. The Federal government, perhaps in partnership with private money, is the only entity capable of making these investments.

Infrastructure building/repair and plenty of construction jobs…both sorely needed to boost the economy! Now, who in their right minds could argue with that? Oh, I forgot….

Below are the links to give you an overview of the infrastructure issues:

Urban Land Institute:

* Focus attention first on critical repairs and upgrades;
* Develop a national infrastructure strategy, funding merit-based projects that support the country’s overall economic priorities;
* Concentrate spending on the nation’s metropolitan areas and global gateways;
* Provide greater long-term certainty for federal funding to support planning for capital projects;
* Institute federal and state infrastructure banks to support project financing; and
* Phase in user fees to help fund infrastructure initiatives on a continuing basis.

American Society of Civil Engineers – 2009 Report Card on Infrastructure: http://www.asce.org/reportcard

The 90-page report, “Infrastructure 2011: A Strategic Priority,” is available at http://www.uli.org/~/media/Documents/ResearchAndPublications/Reports/Infrastructure/Infrastructure2011.ashx.

U.S. Army Corp of Engineers site lists projects that were to be addressed with the 2009 Recovery Act: http://www.usace.army.mil/recovery/pages/projects.aspx

Written by Emerald1943

Born and bred a Southern lady. Degree in nursing and 20 years of classical piano. Two grown children and two gorgeous grandkids. Also two Shih Tzu doggies, the light of my life! Buddhist. A life-long card-carrying, flaming, hard-core, opinionated, liberal/progressive Democrat...and proud of it! Favorite quotation: "When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross." Sinclair Lewis

19 Responses so far.

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  1. Emerald1943 says:

    UPDATE: Senator Harry Reid has managed to pull together a group in the Senate to pass a bill, funding the FAA through the middle of September. The group was comprised of mostly Democrats but did include one republican, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas…which makes this a “bipartisan” agreement. Well, ain’t that just dandy!

    The House of Representatives, in pro forma session, passed the bill by unanimous consent.

    I read several of the newspapers’ articles and most of them indicated that the main roadblock to passing the bill had been subsidies for 13 rural airports and the republicans’ efforts to strip $16.5 million in subsidies for these small airports. This is almost comical in light of the fact that the shutdown of the FAA is costing the taxpayers $30 million PER DAY in lost revenue.

    I believe that the political sticking point was more the attempt by republicans to strip union rights for FAA workers, just another link in their chain of dismantling workers’ rights all over the country, and perhaps the first time we have seen the issue of union-busting on a federal level. I cannot remember any other instance of this in recent activities in Congress although I could be mistaken.

    This story is not over. We will see it again very shortly after Congress returns to work in September, just before funding again runs out. The next time could get ugly!

    The money involved in this particular issue is “small potatoes” for Congress. As I said, union rights are at the core. Given the public outrage in Wisconsin for Governor Walker’s union-busting bill, I believe the rethugs in Congress will be in for another blow to their image with the American people. This will be fun to watch! Stay tuned in September for more….


  2. Emerald1943 says:

    BREAKING NEWS…SORTA’! Ray LaHood, Sec. of Transporation demanding that Congress comes back to Washington from their cushy paid vacations to pass the FAA bill! Since they have apparently stayed “in session” to prevent the President from making any recess appointments, they are technically available, according to Sec. LaHood.

  3. Emerald1943 says:

    My bad! Apologies all ’round. I should have typed 95 THOUSAND people thrown out of work, not million. Too many zeroes to keep track of…

  4. funksands says:

    Em, thanks for posting this. It was really well done.

    I don’t care if we lower our corporate rate to ZERO, businesses won’t locate/re-locate here if our courts are mothballed and our roads and bridges are falling down.

    Your argument is a compelling one, and one that would look great in a letter or email to the President.

  5. Emerald1943 says:

    Hi Adlib! I know I can always count on you to fill in the blanks for me! I did know about the union-busting intent that is holding up this FAA funding bill. But if it wasn’t union-busting, the rethugs would find another objection to stop the bill’s passage.

    With today’s announcement of corporate profits going through the roof, and the announcement of thousands of planned layoffs by those corporations, you would think that folks would be sharpening up their pitchforks. We need a HUGE public works jobs bill NOW!!! We are, in spite of resolving the debt ceiling crisis, spiraling into what looks pretty grim to me. As many have said, the debt ceiling was a manufactured crisis and one that had absolutely NOTHING to do with much of anything else. Congress has just wasted months and months with their posturing and arguing while many people are running out of time!

    I can appreciate the President’s desire to look at the long-term regarding the economy. It takes very smart guys looking a long way down the road to manage this behemoth. But unless somebody takes the old bull by the horns right now, we are still in deep trouble! I don’t know what he can do without Congress, but expecting them to actually pass any legislation that would help is ludicrous.

    I used to think that the conspiracy theory about the rethugs’ TRYING to tank the economy was a little far-fetched…but not anymore! I just hope the American people will open their eyes.

  6. ADONAI says:

    A five week paid vacation? You’re fucking kidding me. After everything that just happened, they’re taking a month off with pay?

    It wouldn’t make me as mad if it weren’t for the fact that THEY decide what they’re paid and THEY decide how long and often they can vacation. They’re OUR employees. A five fucking week vacation while people are still losing their jobs, their pensions, their sanity. This isn’t right.


    1.)I’m glad the President is still pushing infrastructure overhaul. Now that the debt ceiling farce is over with maybe he can get people’s attention. Don’t trust the Army Corp of Engineers though. They built the levees in Louisiana. They admitted the KNEW the levees were flawed and degraded, and in the immediate aftermath they tried to deflect blame. It’s all about contractors and profits.

    Before we begin any real work on our country we really have to straighten out the people we plan to put in charge of it. Public and private contractors and engineers. If we don’t we will be wasting tons of money to buy half-ass service in the name of profit. I hope Obama understands that.

    2.)Same problem here. Throw all the money you want at the FAA. Not a lot of problems are gonna be solved. The problem is really the airlines though. These companies waste money and wait to be bailed out because what are we gonna do, not have airlines? They got us and the government by the balls. The FAA barely regulates them and the fines are a joke. And the FAA KNOWS it. But what are they gonna do?

    Do we want a new America or do we just wanna slap on a coat of paint and walk away? These are good ideas. You’re absolutely right that they need to be addressed.But just throwing money at it has never worked. I wanna give people jobs but jobs doing something that’s gonna matter. Not working for someone bilking us for as much money as possible while doing the absolute least they could do.

    Still, good post. 10/10. This stuff NEEDS to be done and done right.

    • jkkFL says:

      ADONAI- I understand your frustration but look at the bigger picture: There is no direct benefit to lawmakers to spend money on these projects. If they can’t directly benefit from authorizing big expenditures they couldn’t care less.
      Maybe a few could create blind corporations to skim some off the top, but if you designate your primate brother-in-law as CEO, the pitfalls abound.
      Until lawmakers feel there are consequences connected to their actions- or inaction, there will be nothing done.
      They have no sense of accountability, and until the people find a way to hold Them hostage, the status quo will continue..

    • Emerald1943 says:

      Hi Adonai!

      No, not kidding! They actually ran for the hills the minute they were able to get the debt ceiling vote passed. There are a handful in Washington but the House is officially in recess.

      The Senate, however, is another story! Leave it to the rethugs to thwart the President at every turn…they are technically NOT in recess although not at the Capitol. This move is to prevent the President from putting through any recess appointments! These bastards are completely shameless!

      Point taken about the Corps of Engineers who bear much of the guilt for Katrina’s damage. The only reason they are mentioned at all is the inclusion of their report.

      Good point, also, about throwing money at the FAA. I would agree, but my emphasis here is about the jobs that are being lost at construction sites all over the country. We need the work done, we have workers to do that work…all it takes is funding!

      It’s a just a little insensitive (snark!) on the part of the rethugs to allow all those people to be laid off, effectively shutting down projects mid-stream.

  7. whatsthatsound says:

    Great piece, Em! Thanks for writing it! As I have pointed out before, Japan’s public debt “crisis” is WAY beyond that of the U.S. (which has a debt to GDP ratio below France, Germany, Italy, etc. as well). And Japan builds bridges, schools, etc.

    It’s almost a parallel reality from the U.S., because Japan OVERbuilds, and that contributes in no small way to our bloated debt problem (biggest debt to GDP ratio in the world). Japan, because it has so many natural disasters, and the man-made disaster of WWII, continually has to rebuild itself. This has resulted in the construction industry being this nation’s biggest pork barrel. It’s a major problem, but what we don’t have here are the potholes. We DO have “bridges to nowhere” though.

    Why can’t governments get things right? Strike a balance between what’s REALLY needed and the public funding it costs to build and maintain that.
    Maybe we in Japan could send all those construction companies over to the States, so they could work on more projects that really need doing!

  8. kesmarn says:

    Em, you see things so clearly; it makes me wish that you were in DC sharing Joe Biden’s office with him and having the ear of the Prez.

    Thanks so much for this well-written and well-researched article. There is no limit to the amount of work that needs to be done in this country. And so much of this infra-structure maintenance/repair is work that many Americans are or can be training to do. It can’t be outsourced. But we need government to do this sort of thing.

    People who try to present government as the enemy have an agenda. And it’s not one that takes the welfare of the working class into consideration.

    • Emerald1943 says:

      Wow, Kes! Thanks for the kind words! Oh if I only had the ear of the President…sharing Joe’s office?? Not so much! :-)

      I’m afraid that it’s the agenda of the people you mention that is taking this country down! I believe we have only seen the tip of the iceberg with this bunch of ignorant baggers.

  9. AdLib says:

    This is exactly what Obama and the Dems need to focus on and I’m glad they are. What they need to do though is take what action they can and quit bothering with the Repubs to bring them on board.

    So, Obama should figure out what he can do by Executive Order on this and he should work with the Dems in The Senate and House to draft a jobs bill that the Senate can at least bring up for a vote. They’re unlikely to get anything passed there or in the House but their jobs bill can be their 2012 platform for giving Dems the reins.

    As for what’s going on with the GOP blocking the FAA bill, it turns out Delta Airlines is in the midst of trying to kill the unions in their company and with some likely generous contributions to the GOP, they are getting them to turn their terrorist tactics on the FAA and the American public on this issue.

    What they want is the passage of what is likely an unconstitutional law that would declare, in votes for unions, that any votes that aren’t cast be counted as “no” votes.

    As I mentioned in another comment, can you imagine if each of these corrupt politicians had to run for re-election under the same law? All people who don’t vote are counted as votes against them?

    The GOP is a terrorist organization now and it is true that you can’t deal with terrorists or they will be empowered to strike again.

    This debt ceiling was the last straw. From now on, they must be fought like the terrorists they are, given no ransom for their acts and instead attacked relentlessly for their vicious plots.

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