Mainstream Democrats are now joining in the effort to blame the Bush administration for the fact that a bridge collapsed in Minneapolis. Ridiculous, you say? Not too ridiculous for Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, as reported by Reuters:
U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat, suggested Bush administration spending on the Iraq war may have crimped funding for domestic projects such as road and bridge construction, and for such infrastructure projects as new levees for New Orleans.
“We’ve spent $500 billion (250 billion pounds) in Iraq and we have bridges falling down in this country,” Klobuchar told MSNBC. “I see a connection between messed-up priorities.”
Apparently Klobuchar didn’t bother to check the numbers before suggesting that funding for road and bridge construction has somehow been “crimped.” The Minnesota Department of Transportation reported on the whopping increase in federal highway aid that it is currently receiving:
U.S. President George Bush signed a $286.4 billion six-year transportation reauthorization bill Aug. 10, 2005 that covers federal fiscal years 2004-09.
Although the details of the reauthorization package are still being reviewed, Minnesota state and local governments can expect to receive about $3.5 billion in federal transportation funding through 2009, an increase of about 46 percent (or about $1.1 billion) over the previous six-year bill.
We still have no idea what caused the Mississippi River bridge to collapse. One thing we can say with absolute certainty, however: it wasn’t a shortage of federal highway spending.
UPDATE: Minnesota Department of Transportation officials have made it clear that budget issues had nothing to do with the fact that the bridge was not replaced or subjected to more major repairs. This statement is typical:
Asked whether a lack of money was behind MnDOT’s decision not to reinforce the bridge, MnDOT Metro District Engineer Khani Sahebjam said: “No, we would never do that because of money.”
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