As anyone who follows news and politics can tell you, it's a right of passage for political candidates to profess their unwavering love for "small business." Like "job creators" and "Obama is a Marxist," a phrase along the lines of "I'm looking out for small business" is a must.
But are politicians really looking out for small business? Or are they more concerned with lowering tax rates and repealing pollution-curbing regulations for political sugar daddies like the Koch brothers? Because, right now, aging infrastructure is damaging small businesses all across the nation and many politicians, especially right-wing politicians in Congress, aren't lifting a finger to help.
The past few days provide some good examples.
In Yakima, Washinton, a pipe that was almost 100-years-old broke over the weekend and harmed local businesses. A man who saw his store sustain $20,000 in damage said, "Businesses are dealing with tough situations anyway in this economic climate. Having this added to it, it just adds more pressure."
In Bellevue, Washington, an old pipe broke yesterday and caused several businesses to flood, lose their water supply, and close early.
A nearly 100-year-old pipe in Los Angeles broke yesterday, and it was reported that "Business owners in the area were dumbfounded. At the Bombay Grill the owners says 'Here we go again!' Same thing at the corner donut shop, a nail salon and the Subway. The last two closed down early. No business."
Our political "leaders" in Congress could create a new WPA (or, at they very least, increase funding for existing mechanisms) to improve our deteriorating infrastructure-- instead of blabbering on about how they're madly in love with small business--but action takes a lot of effort, whereas empty political rhetoric requires very little. And so, as the senior national correspondent for Time magazine points out, "no matter how much Republicans say they care about infrastructure, they’re not going to accept any infrastructure proposals that come from President Barack Obama...Republicans say nice things about infrastructure but haven’t shown any interest in paying for it. As a result, the nation has failed to take advantage of historically low interest rates to invest more in our overcrowded airports, outdated railways and flimsy bridges." (Also see "Senate GOP blocks $60B Obama infrastructure plan")
During the 1930s and 40s, New Deal policymakers invested heavily in American infrastructure--and the investment paid off. After World War II, the economy expanded along New Deal roads, across New Deal bridges, and out of New Deal airports. Heck, even Ronald Reagan loved the WPA, praising it in his autobiography. But today, the situation is quite different. Infrastructure spending is now cartoonishly likened to "socialism!!" and "out-of-control, big government spending!!" Today, it seems, only Lenin would have the audacity to replace a 100-year-old pipe.