From the everything-is-culture-war files: Yesterday a guest blogger from the Sierra Club posted on Think Progress about the House Republicans’ fit over the transportation bill. Yes, the headline-grabbing aspect of it is mostly the pipeline battles, but the overgrown children that run the Republican party have also decided to whine and cry about other provisions regarding transportation methods they no doubt see as pussified liberal methods that must be stomped out.
But as Senate and House negotiators enter the final three weeks of negotiations over a transportation bill, House Republicans are demanding that the Senate drop provisions that will make biking and walking safer across the country….
One particularly egregious demand from House Republican negotiators is that the Senate eliminate the Safe Routes to School program. Established by the 2005 transportation bill, this program provides grants to programs that help children around the country safely walk to school. Talk about a case of throwing our nation’s school kids under the bus .
Another program under fire, formerly known as the Transportation Enhancements program, has historically provided states and cities with the majority of their funding for safe biking and walking infrastructure. In the Senate bill, this program was combined with the Recreational Trails and Safe Routes to School program into a new “Additional Activities” program. Concerned that local governments would have a hard time competing for these funds, Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS) and Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), brokered a bipartisan compromise which would allow states to opt out of the program, but sets aside a portion of funds that cities, towns and rural areas could compete for.
House Republicans initially demanded that funding the “Additional Activities” program be eliminated entirely, but were rebuffed by the Senate. After all, a new survey shows that 83% of Americans support maintaining or increasing funding for biking and walking, including 80% of Republicans. Now, House Republican negotiators are demanding that states be able to opt out of the Additional Activities program, essentially denying cities and towns the ability to compete for funds that could improve safe biking and walking in their communities.
This country is enduring an epidemic of health problems related to lack of exercise. Climate change? Still a problem, even as it gets ignored by politicians and often in the mainstream media. Fuel prices have been rising and while they may go up and down with market fluctuations, they general trend is up. Americans want to get more exercise while reducing their negative impact on the environment, but Republicans are fighting to push us back into cars by making all other options unsafe.
This is where the knee-jerk conservative resentment of anything deemed “liberal” leads. Prudence, fitness, frugality, conservation: These are the kind of old-fashioned American values that conservatives claim they stand for. But since liberals also agree that saving money, doing right by your body, and having a liveable environment are good things, Republicans have to childishly reject all that on the grounds that liberals tainted it. This is how far we’ve fallen as a country.