How pathetic is it that someone actually has to explain this to Meet the Press host Chuck Todd? After this week's Amtrack derailment, the Republicans have all been screaming like a bunch of stuck pigs about how unfairly they're being treated by Democrats over budget cuts to our infrastructure, and how terrible it is that they're politicizing the issue. The horror! We all know Republicans would never use any issue for political gain if given the chance.
So naturally that's how Chuck Todd framed his opening question to Sen. Cory Booker when he asked him if the criticism was "fair." Booker proceeded to give Todd a very good lesson as to why infrastructure spending should not be a partisan issue and on just how much damage Republicans are doing to our economy with their budget cuts.
TODD: This week some House Republicans have been criticizing some Democrats, not you by name, but other Democrats for attempting to politicize this derailment. Do you think that's a fair critique?
BOOKER: Well look, I think it's a distraction from the reality. The United States of America is falling behind dramatically its global peers in terms of the quality of its infrastructure. We have trillions of dollars of an infrastructure debt right now and the accident that we saw happen, which the NTSB says could have been prevented should we have had positive train control.
We should not be scrimping on investments in public safety, but what's even more important to understand is this. As China invests about 9 percent of their GDP in infrastructure, Japan 6 percent, Europe 5 percent, America's only doing 1.5 percent.
By withholding this investment in what America used to dominate the globe in, the number one infrastructure globally, now out of the top ten, depending on who you look at, number twelfth or eighteenth, we are losing economic competitiveness. We are losing out on jobs. We are missing out on growth, so let's leave that partisan argument aside for a second and just say, the fiscally conservative thing to do right now is to invest in your... whether it's a company and your physical plant, or a homeowner and your roof, but as a nation we have fallen way out of pace with where we were in previous years in terms of overall investment.
TODD: Do you really think it's a fair implication that the lack of infrastructure spending is to blame for this accident?
BOOKER: I think the lack of infrastructure spending is costing us lives in America. It's costing every commuter in my region, especially you see commuters paying over a thousand dollars a year in terms of damage to their cars, lost productivity. It's costing us in economic growth. It's costing us in jobs. So the safety of our roads and bridges, we already know, unequivocally, for months I've been working on this issue, you know unequivocally are safety as a nation, our air traffic, aviation infrastructure, our rail infrastructure, our roads and bridges is inadequate.
We should be investing more, that's unequivocally, that's unassailable and for us not to do that in a bipartisan fashion is unacceptable to me, and it's what we should be working on.
BOOKER: I'm a pro-growth guy, and we know for example in the Northeast corridor, one sixth of the American population and one fifth of the economic growth, the economic growth and the fueling of our GDP doesn't just go to Republicans or doesn't just go to Democrats. It benefits this country as a whole. […]
It's a political fight yes, but in fact, those folks who fiscally conservative, where ought in the world, in fact, any Wall Street investor, for every dollar you invest for things like the Northeast corridor, passenger rail, you get about two dollars back in economic growth and activity.
Any investor will take that and if we are stewards of American dollars and caretakers of this great infrastructure we have inherited from our grandfathers, we don't want to pass it onto our children with an infrastructure debt. We want to make those investments and reap those dividends.
Which is why they want to privatize it. They're not good stewards of our American dollars unless those dollars are lining one of their campaign contributors' pockets.