Opinion: Fund infrastructure projects by cutting wasteful programs
I have long been a champion on the issue of prioritizing Kentucky’s critical infrastructure projects. Year after year, I’ve introduced legislation that would redirect one percent of non-infrastructure spending to domestic projects, and ensure more of Kentuckians’ hard-earned tax dollars are spent on important projects in your own backyards and communities. In addition, I’ve forced votes on cutting foreign aid welfare and using that money for roads and bridges here at home.
Despite my persistent efforts, Congress has continued to fail the American people on this issue. Democrats and some Republicans apparently care more about building roads and bridges in Afghanistan than those here at home.
Soon, the U.S. Senate will take up what we hope is a bipartisan infrastructure bill – I won’t hold my breath on that – but it could fund some of our nation’s most critical infrastructure projects, like the Brent Spence Bridge. America needs to invest in infrastructure, but with our national debt growing by the trillions, we must find a way to pay for needed projects without incurring additional debt.
Democrats are proposing a $3.5 trillion reckless tax and spending spree under the guise of infrastructure by including pet projects that have nothing to do with infrastructure. Did you know reparations for slavery, free child care, free health care, free cars, free college, free you-name-it, are now considered infrastructure by Democrats?
Certainly, a 60-year-old bridge that serves as a critical element of our nation’s infrastructure, carrying both I-75 and I-71 traffic through the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky areas, and serves as a connection point for 10 different states, would be higher priority.
Historically, Republicans and Democrats could come to agree that roads and bridges, locks and dams were part of our basic infrastructure. The problem this year is that Democrats have redefined infrastructure to include any and all liberal wishlist items. This type of spending is going to bankrupt our country sooner, rather than later.
I am all for a new bridge, and my office has been working closely with U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) to ensure the Brent Spence Bridge is specifically included in the bipartisan bill, but there has to be a way to pay for it. There has to be a way to pay for all of it.
Democrats have no plan to cover the cost of the bill, other than imposing higher taxes on American families and mortgaging the debt on our children and grandchildren. At some point, we have to stop recklessly spending and evaluate where we can cut costs to supplement our needs.
Last year, over $54 billion was wasted on projects like studying lizards running on a treadmill, testing if hot tubbing can lower stress and sending Russians to American community colleges for a "gap year." If we cut this kind of ridiculous spending, we could easily fund our nation’s critical infrastructure projects including the Brent Spence Bridge.
I want to ensure Kentucky isn't hurt or left behind by a Congress that can't figure out how to put our communities' needs first. We shouldn't suffer because Washington is unwilling to cut less-important waste projects.
It has always been my priority, and will continue to be to ensure your hard-earned tax dollars are directed toward infrastructure projects right here in your communities, not sent overseas or spent on wasteful programs.
U.S. Sen. Rand Paul is a Kentucky Republican and physician.