A bridge too far

President Obama made an appearance yesterday at the Brent Spence Bridge in Cincinnati to promote his “jobs” (i.e., tax) bill. The bridge was intended to symbolize Republican opposition to Obama’s bill, though the bill hasn’t proved to be a big hit with Democrats in the Senate either. The bridge spans the Ohio River separating Ohio, home of House Speaker John Boehner, from Kentucky, home of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

The bridge was also intended to be symbolic of the good works that Obama’s bill will perform. Shovel-ready jobs, infrastructure, (union) jobs, an economy that lasts, and all that.

Here is the text of Obama’s speech. Here is the White House account of Obama’s appearance. Here is the video of Obama’s speech (and it is worth watching).

A conventional news account of Obama’s appearance captures his themes:

Standing before an aging bridge that links the home turfs of top Republicans in Congress, President Barack Obama touted his $447 billion jobs bill Thursday as a way to help repair the nation’s infrastructure.

Obama called out by name Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, as he spoke near the Brent Spence Bridge that carries Interstates 75 and 71 over the Ohio River.

“Mr. Boehner, Mr. McConnell, help us rebuild this bridge,” Obama said. “Help us rebuild America. Help us put this country back to work. Pass this jobs bill right away.”

Andrew Malcolm recounts the facts that belie Obama’s themes:

You know all those rusting bridges that President Obama wants to spend billions more dollars repairing to allegedly stimulate the economy?

He’s headed out to one today which he’s described as a “bridge that needs repair between Ohio and Kentucky that’s on one of the busiest trucking routes in North America.” It is on a busy trucking route, spanning the Ohio River between Covington, Ky., and Cincinnati.

It’s the Brent Spence Bridge. It doesn’t really need repairs. It’s got decades of good life left in its steel spans. It’s just overloaded. The bridge was built to handle 85,000 cars and trucks a day, which seemed like a lot back during construction in the Nixon era.

Today, the bridge sort of handles more than 150,000 vehicles a day with frequent jam-ups.Obama speaks to the American Legion 8-30-11

So, plans are not to repair or replace the Brent Spence Bridge. But to build another bridge nearby to ease the loads.

But here’s the problem, as John Merline graphically notes here, that could screw up all those envisioned photo op shots of the Democrat and the traffic:

The president’s jobs bill is designed for “immediate” highway spending.

And the new $2.3 billion Cincy bridge is not scheduled to even start construction for probably four years, long after Republicans have scheduled the Obama presidency for completion.

And without delays, it wouldn’t be finished until 2022, when no one will be counting Obama’s rounds of golf.

The bridge itself doesn’t actually need repairs.

In other words, the bridge is indeed symbolic. It is symbolic of Obama’s demagogy, his loose way with facts, his profligacy with public funds, his cluelessness about job and wealth creation. “Pass this bill”? Pass this gas is more like it.

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