Michigan’s Democratic senators, Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters, worked out an agreement yesterday with Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.) on a bipartisan package to help Flint and cities like it.
As the Washington Post reported, “The agreement includes $70 million in credit subsidies for water infrastructure projects, $100 million for subsidized loans and grants to help states with spoiled water supplies and $50 million for public health programs.” This deal was supposed to have been worked out quite a while ago, but in this Congress, even modest steps in the right direction are encouraging.
But Senator Snowball’s press statement on the agreement included shots at President Obama that seemed wildly out of place.
“The media’s attention to Flint has put a spotlight on the crisis we face across the nation due to a failure to address aging water infrastructure. As a result of misplaced priorities of President Obama, who has consistently failed to partner with the states to address our nation’s real needs, stories are emerging in East Los Angeles, Baltimore, communities across Ohio, and elsewhere about lead pipes and other infrastructure problems that put the health of our citizens at risk.“In my leadership role on the EPW Committee, I have watched the Obama administration prioritize more than $120 billion for the president’s global warming agenda at the expense of real investment in critical infrastructure.”
Grist joked, “Ya hear that, liberals?? Contrary to common sense and all expert opinions, Flint’s water crisis isn’t because the conservative local government changed the city’s water source in order to save money, it’s because of Obama’s ‘global warming agenda.’”
It would appear that Inhofe sees this as a binary either/or dynamic: we can address the climate crisis or we can invest in water infrastructure. As the Oklahoma Republican sees it, the rascally president seems overly concerned about the former, which Inhofe naturally sees as a mistake, since he believes global warming is an elaborate hoax orchestrated by scientists, researchers, and assorted villains that exist in the senator’s imagination.
But that’s not a responsible posture. A superpower as wealthy as the United States is perfectly capable of having quality infrastructure and addressing a planetary climate crisis.
But to suggest that the White House is indifferent to infrastructure investments is plainly wrong. In fact, it’s backwards – the administration has repeatedly urged congressional Republicans to spend more on infrastructure, only to hear from Inhofe’s GOP colleagues that such calls must be ignored. Government spending is always bad, they said, even when it’s good.
What we have here is an example of Inhofe helping strike a bipartisan deal, but taking a gratuitous shot at the White House and those who accept climate science, just for the sake of doing so. Amazing that Senate Republicans put him in charge of the committee that oversees environmental policy.