Hartmann: Imagine life with no water...in America!
wake up - you can't take a shower.
You can't brush your teeth.
You can't use the bathroom.
You can't cook.
You can't clean.
You can't do laundry.
You can't really do anything.
Luckily - this isn't really a problem facing most Americans...but it might be soon.
That's because it's not just our roads and bridges that are deteriorating across the nation - it's also our water pipes. A new study by the American Water Works Association reveals that America's underground water pipe infrastructure is rapidly deteriorating - and needs to be revamped to the tune of one trillion dollars. Most water pipes were laid down more than fifty years ago. And today - after more than 30 years of "starve the beast" Reaganomics that didn't invest one dime in our infrastructure - those pipes are past the end of most of their lifespans. The study also called for replacement of wastewater pipes - which will cost another trillion dollars. So here we are - the richest nation on the planet - with rotting, third-world water pipes underneath us. But that's not all...our entire infrastructure - from our roads to our schools to our dams - desperately needs repair or replacement.
The American Society of Civil Engineers puts out a report card on America's Infrastructure - and the latest grades are from 2009 - America's Infrastructure GPA is D!
Estimated 5 year investment needed: $2.2 Trillion. With these abysmal grades - the United States now ranks thirteenth in the world when it comes to infrastructure investments. So what does all this mean? It means we need to take back those trillions of dollars that Reagan, Bush, Clinton, and Bush - and even Obama - gave to millionaires and billionaires and giant transnational corporations in the form of historically low tax rates. And once we get back to tax rates like we had during the Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, and Carter years - years, by the way, of the greatest growth and prosperity in American history - we need to use that money to rebuild America. Which works out really well - because investments in infrastructure put millions of Americans back to work building things like roads, schools, and power plants. Our economy is begging for this sort of stimulus.
Unfortunately Republicans in Congress aren't budging. Rather than investments - Republicans want austerity. At a time when the government has to spend money to make American competitive again - they want the government to be a tight-wad. Unless they get a phone call from their paymasters in the oil industry like the Koch Brothers or ExxonMobil. Then, rather than updating our water pipelines - they want to build a new oil pipelines. Rather than renovate public schools - they want to close public schools and let for-profit corporations make money educating our children. Rather than fix 75,000 "structurally deficient" bridges that millions of Americans drive across everyday - they want to give more massive tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires. And last time I checked - millionaires and billionaires aren't investing their fortunes in building bridges across America.
But most disturbingly - beyond political ideology about the role of government - Republicans are against these critical infrastructure investments because they don't want the economy to improve. They know that if they passed legislation to move America into the 21st Century with new smart energy grids, new water pipes, and new high speed rail systems - then millions of Americans would be put back to work and our economy would boom - and President Obama would get credit for it. That's unacceptable to a Republican Party that's first objective is to make President Obama a one-term president. So it's pretty simple - we as Americans need to ask ourselves what sort of infrastructure we deserve in the wealthiest nation on Earth? Do we deserve a Grade-D infrastructure like we have? If so - then yeah, keep Republicans in charge of the purse-strings in Congress. But if you think we deserve a Grade-A infrastructure like the rest of the developed world is building - then it's time to hold Republicans in Congress accountable.Damn! - the water pipe just busted...