Over the weekend, CBS’ Bob Schieffer asked Speaker of the House John Boehner very bluntly about the current gridlock in Congress, its failure to pass any important legislation and its record-low approval ratings among the American people.
Boehner responded by saying that, “We should not be judged by how many new laws we create, we ought to be judged on how many laws we repeal.”
In other words, “Laws are bad and government is bad, so who needs either.”
Instead of working to pass the legislation that this nation desperately needs to get back on its feet and to rebuild its economy, Boehner would rather see our great nation end up like the now bankrupt Detroit. And boy is Boehner’s wish coming true.
Detroit used to be the industrial capital of America, and really the world. But, starting with Reagan, our industrial and trade policies began to change. As a result, our nation moved from a manufacturing based economy to a banking and serviced based economy. Instead of making things, we now say “would you like fries with that,” “welcome to WalMart,” and “there’s a $5.00 fee for using your credit card that way.” We embraced free trade deals, and jumped head first into outsourcing policies that vastly increased corporate profits while shipping hundreds of thousands of jobs overseas.
As a result, many of the jobs that were once done in factories in Detroit are now done in factories in China and other nations. And the same holds true for the rest of America.
When given a chance to stop the outsourcing of American jobs overseas, Speaker Boehner and his Republican colleagues balked. In September of 2010, Republicans in Congress killed a bill that would have eliminated tax breaks for companies that outsource jobs.
But outsourcing isn’t the only problem that Detroit and the rest of America have in common.
In Detroit, thanks to a severe lack of funding, public education is failing that city’s children. Only 7% of Detroit public school 8th-graders are proficient in reading, while just 4% are proficient in math. And, in 2008, Detroit’s high school graduation rate was just 24.9 percent.
In the rest of the United States, public education is just as underfunded as it is in Detroit. As a result, in 2008, the US’ high school graduation rate was lower than the rates of the UK, Switzerland, Norway, South Korea, Japan, Italy and a host of other developed nations.
And, according to multiple reports released in December of last year, fourth and eighth-grade students in the U.S. lag behind students in many East Asian and European nations when it comes to math and science. And those same reports revealed that European and Asian nations spend far more money and spend it more wisely on education than we do here.
But Speaker Boehner and his Republican colleagues must be content with these stats, because they have done next to nothing to boost funding for public education in America.
And Republican inaction in Congress doesn't stop at refusing to address public education, gun violence, infrastructure and jobs in America. Since John Boehner has been Speaker of the House, Republicans have voted nearly 40 times to repeal Obamacare, they've refused to address climate change, they've refused to reel in the big banks on Wall Street, and they've refused to address the home foreclosure crisis.
Meanwhile, in Detroit, that city’s infrastructure is literally crumbling to the grown. Streets are littered with potholes, power outages have become the new normal, and the buildings that once housed America’s booming automobile industry now look like scenes out of a horror movie.
And, in the rest of the United States, things aren’t much better.
Each year, the American Society of Civil Engineers releases a “report card” for America’s infrastructure. And, in its 2013 report card, the ASCE gave a D to America’s roads and highways, a D to America’s transit system, a D to America’s aviation system, a D+ to America’s energy infrastructure, and a C+ to America’s bridges.
But, despite America’s crumbling infrastructure, Speaker Boehner and the rest of Republicans in Washington have repeatedly refused to provide the funding needed to bring America’s infrastructure out of the 1800’s and into the 21st century.
Back in Detroit, that city is also dealing with increases in violent crime and gun violence.
In 2012, there were 386 homicides in the city. There were 54.6 homicides per 100,000 residents in Detroit in 2012, the highest homicide rate that city has seen in nearly two decades.
Nationwide, there were nearly 8,600 homicides by firearms in 2011, which accounted for more than two-thirds of all homicides in 2011. And, as we know, mass shootings like the ones in Aurora and Newtown have become the norm.
But again, Speaker Boehner and Republican lawmakers in Washington have failed to pass any comprehensive legislation to address the gun violence epidemic in America, or the inequality and poverty that are driving it.
So, while Speaker Boehner may be content with being at the helm of the worst Congress in history, and with the fact that surveys show more Americans prefer lice and colonoscopies over their elected lawmakers in Washington, the results, or lack thereof, speak for themselves.
Thanks to the record-breaking inaction and gridlock in Washington, the entire country is following in the path of Detroit, and that’s a very dangerous and devastating path to be on.
We the people deserve an economy that keeps jobs in America, roads that don’t crumble, schools that our children can excel in, and neighborhoods that we can live safely in.
Call your elected officials, and tell them to get to work and save our country.