As Opposed To A Bridge to Nowhere

At first glance, you wouldn’t think of Detroit as one of the biggest centers for foreign trade in the US, but it is.  Over a quarter of US trade with Canada, our largest trading partner, passes through the area, making it an often overlooked hub of international trade.  We have a tunnel (jointly owned by the cities of Detroit and Windsor) and the Ambassador Bridge (owned by crusty old gazillionaire Matty Moroun).  Tomorrow, the Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Michigan Governor Rick Snyder are set to announce the construction of a second bridge to ease bottlenecks in transit between the two countries and to facilitate trade.

The Canadians are (generously) offering to finance the entire deal, saying basically that Michigan can pay them back out of the tolls that accrue once the project is finished.  It seems like a relatively uncontroversial idea, on the face of it, and, frankly, it is.  But, as per usual, Michigan Republicans have their undies in a bunch over what they view as ‘out of control government spending.’  Michigan House Republicans have passed a measure that would prohibit Snyder from using any public money to build the bridge.  Snyder has been able to circumvent this by accurately saying that this is all going to be on the Canadians’ dime.

I understand wanting to have a semblance of fiscal sanity prevail.  I understand not wanting to have runaway government spending upset the carefully arranged columns of the state’s financial ledgers.  But the fact of the matter is that this legislative roadblock that the GOP is trying to throw up in the path of the Governor belies the underlying view that Republicans these days view government spending, any government spending, no matter what the cause or the goal, to be the very incarnation of Karl Marx himself.  One would think that a proposal to fund a bridge to facilitate trade with our largest trading partner and create thousands of jobs would be a relatively uncontroversial prospect, and one that would provoke little, if any opposition?

Such thinking would be reasonable, but not entirely accurate.  This funding spat reveals fundamental differences between the way that Republicans and the rest of us see the world.  In their minds, a bridge to Canada is just one more step on the road to government enforced slavery.  For the rest of us, a bridge is, as it is, just a bridge; another government infrastructure project that’s worthy of our financial support.  Lucky for us, we’re getting this one financed by those socialists across the river.  Thanks Canada.

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