Republicans like to portray their party as pro-business, but the Tea Party ideology so influential in Republican circles today favors policies that are distinctly harmful to business. In this article and a followup, we’ll be taking a look at two current issues vitally important to business — the looming insolvency of the federal Highway Trust Fund and the potential dissolution of the Export-Import Bank on September 30 unless its authorization is renewed. On both of these issues, Republican obstructionism inspired by Tea Party thinking threatens serious harm to businesses and to America’s economic interests.
First, the Highway Trust Fund.
The Highway Trust Fund helps support road and bridge projects all across the nation, but at some point in August or September, it will run out of money, throwing as many as 700,000 workers into unemployment. Our infrastructure is decaying, and this undermines the ability of American businesses to compete in global markets. Potholes, deteriorated surfaces, and road closures slow everyone down, not just businesses. We we have plenty of all three in New York’s 23rd.
The failure to build needed new roads due to strapped budgets is another problem. Anyone who has driven south from our district toward Washington knows that a bypass is desperately needed at Shamokin Dam, PA — and has been for decades.
Businesses and ordinary drivers deserve a long-term solution that will fund repairs and significant improvements to our highways and bridges. That’s why President Obama has proposed a four-year $302 billion infrastructure program to be paid for in part by closing corporate tax loopholes.
But Republican obstructionists in Washington, determined to thwart the President at every turn, will have none of it. Yesterday, the Republican-controlled House Ways and Means Committee unveiled a pitiful little bill to fund transportation projects through May 15, 2015, using revenue sources Democrats had been hoping to use to pay for extending benefits for the long-term unemployed. Our congressman, Republican Tom Reed, serves on Ways and Means.
New York’s 23rd deserves to be represented in Congress by a person of vision — someone truly committed to jobs and economic development — rather than a member who backs stopgaps that damage unemployed constituents. Martha Robertson is that person of vision.
The collapse of the Export-Import Bank, if it is allowed to occur, will also do damage to businesses in New York and throughout the United States. Watch this space for an upcoming analysis.