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Ross: Give the money back to the states

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) returns to his office from the Senate chamber after the U.S. Senate failed to reach cloture on a bipartisan infrastructure bill on July 21, 2021 in Washington, DC. Republican senators blocked the $1.2 trillion bill as they seek more time to strike a deal with Democratic senators and finalize the legislation. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

It looks like despite all the attempts to build bipartisan support to fix roads and bridges, the infrastructure plan in Congress is stalling out again.

It’s not dead yet, but as you skip across the internet you can see that politicians are still in point-scoring mode over masks and vaccines, and if you still can’t come together on matters of life and death, what chance is there to agree on roads and bridges?

So I say, if they can’t come together by the end of the month, give the money back.

If the Congress can’t agree, just send back the taxes we paid. Send it back to the legislatures of each state.

Actually, maybe that should be a general rule going forward. When Congress can’t agree by the end of the fiscal year, which is Oct. 30, the money just goes back to the states, and they can choose the projects.

“But Dave, what about interstate highways that go between states?” Well, states will have to agree with their neighbors so the pavement doesn’t abruptly end at the border. We’re all grownups here, right? We can do that. And if some state turns out not to be run by grownups, then it’s up to the state’s voters to fix that.

“But Dave, this means the rich urban states will have all the money they need, and the poorer rural states won’t.” Yes, that’s exactly what it means, so what?

Checking the map of the 20 states most dependent on federal subsidies, 11 are firmly in Republicans hands – House, Senate, and Governor. All but two of the senators from those states are Republican – that’s 20 senators. Twice as many as it would take to break a filibuster.

So, if senators of these poorer states won’t vote for this, it means they don’t want that help! Or they have different ideas for spending the money. Fine! It’s like the vaccine – why try to force benefits on states that don’t want them?

Here in Washington state, if we got a refund of 100% instead of the 77% we get back from the treasury now, we could not only revive I-5, those new expansion joints could be solid gold with sequins.

Of course, they’d probably go missing within a month. So, not a good idea. I’m willing to settle for stainless steel.

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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