Wednesday, September 21, 2011

President's visit to Ohio River bridge strictly a political maneuver

From the Washington Post:
The Brent Spence Bridge spans the Ohio River from Cincinnati to Covington, Ky. In terms of political clout, you can’t do much better than this bridge: It connects the home states of the most powerful Republicans in the nation: House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

So perhaps it is not a coincidence that the White House says President Obama will make the Brent Spence Bridge the next stop on his tour to sell the American Jobs Act to the public.

On Thursday, Obama will appear at the bridge to make the case for “much-needed investments in infrastructure projects across the country” that can “put more Americans back to work,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said.

He added that the bridge, on one of the busiest trucking routes in North America, is considered “functionally obsolete” because of its need for repairs.

Carney insisted that no politics were involved in the location selection... [snip]

In his speeches on the jobs tour, Obama regularly tells his audiences that Republicans are playing politics with the economy... Yet it is Obama who has strategically scheduled his jobs tour in a very political way.

His first stop was Richmond, Va., the home district of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R)... Then he went to Columbus, Ohio, to tour a school on Tuesday, making his first stop in Boehner’s state. On Wednesday, Obama was in Apex and Raleigh, N.C., his third visit in a row to a crucial electoral swing state.

Obama carried Virginia, Ohio and North Carolina in 2008, but George W. Bush carried them in 2004. His stops in those states this month are a tacit acknowledgment that his jobs package is as much a political gambit as a policy proposal...
And despite Carney's insistence that politics did not play a role in the location selection, White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer on Tuesday seemed to suggest otherwise.

The Brent Spence Bridge location "was notable," Pfeiffer said, "because it connects Ohio and Kentucky."

"We are going to the place that connects these two states of these two leaders," Pfeiffer added, "and we're going to talk about the American Jobs Act and what it would do for the country but also for those two states."

Nevertheless, the AP quoted One Republican Ohio congressman as saying that while an overhaul of the bridge is necessary, and has bipartisan support, GOP officials question whether it should come through new taxes and spending, and say it will take years for the project to be ready to put enough people to work to dent high unemployment rates.

It should ne noted, however, that whether it takes years for the project to be ready or not is not really important. For ultimately, Mr. Obama is trying to build a bridge to the 2012 Presidential election, and that bridge, right now, just happens to be the Ohio River bridge. True, the bridge won't be ready for repairs anytime soon, and thus it can not create jobs anytime soon. But the President can still use the bridge as a talking point to help himself get re-elected, and then he will have saved at least one job in 2012...