Posted by | September 26, 2011 11:25 | Filed under: Top Stories

by Stuart Shapiro

The latest threat of a government shutdown has, at its core, a question about whether FEMA spending needs to be offset by other spending reductions.  Henry Blodget discusses the ridiculousness of holding FEMA money hostage.

Last month, flood waters from Hurricane Irene washed out a small bridge in Cornwall, Connecticut. It wasn’t a big bridge–not like the covered bridge in Vermont that got swept away–but it was a bridge that connects Lower River Road to the main drag. And because Lower River Road is a dead-end, all the houses on it have been cut off.

Fixing this bridge is the sort of “shovel ready” project that detractors of government spending always complain we don’t have enough of. Fixing it would employ a few folks for a few days, pumping some money into the local economy. It would send some business to nearby restaurants and stores. And, most importantly, it would make the infrastructure of the State of Connecticut in the United States of America look less like that of El Salvador.

But our elected representatives in Washington would rather preen in front of TV cameras than govern. So there’s no timetable for fixing the bridge on Lower River Road, or other Irene-related problems in the town of Cornwall, or the massive flood damage in the State of Vermont.

I have to admit, I’m mystified by this choice of a fight by Republicans in Congress.  The dollar amounts are miniscule so we are talking about blind ideology here.  And the politics for the GOP are awful (especially in swing states like Pennsylvania).  Republican governors are decrying the intransigence of their party-mates in Congress.  Democrats are getting a gift here.  They best exploit it as much as possible.

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Copyright 2011 Liberaland
By: Stuart Shapiro

Stuart is a professor and the Director of the Public Policy
program at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers
University. He teaches economics and cost-benefit analysis and studies
regulation in the United States at both the federal and state levels.
Prior to coming to Rutgers, Stuart worked for five years at the Office
of Management and Budget in Washington under Presidents Clinton and
George W. Bush.