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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Sept. 27, 2011 26 Elul, 5771

Obama' strained symbolism at an Ohio River bridge

By Glenn Kessler




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | “There are private construction companies all across America just waiting to get to work. There’s a bridge that needs repair between Ohio and Kentucky that’s on one of the busiest trucking routes in North America.”

— President Obama, speech to a joint session of Congress, Sept. 8

“There’s no reason for Republicans in Congress to stand in the way of more construction projects. There’s no reason to stand in the way of more jobs. Mr. Boehner, Mr. McConnell, help us rebuild this bridge. Help us rebuild America. Help us put construction workers back to work. Pass this bill.”

— President Obama, speech in Cincinnati, Sept. 22

“There are just numerous, numerous projects. This one is symbolic. The fact is that if the American Jobs Act were passed, we could speed up the process of environmental and other approvals on this specific bridge.”

— White House spokesman Jay Carney, news briefing, Sept. 22

Symbolism is a key part of any president’s political arsenal. He visits a school, a factory, a national park or even a bridge to make a larger point about an important issue.

And certainly a trip to the aging Brent Spence Bridge on the Ohio River must have been irresistible to Obama’s political advisers, because not only does it symbolize the nation’s infrastructure crisis but it connects Kentucky and Ohio, where his two main nemeses reside — House Speaker John A. Boehner (Ohio) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.).

But is there a point at which the symbolism becomes strained? President George H.W. Bush, for instance, was embarrassed in 1989 when it turned out that the bag of crack cocaine he held up in a televised address — “This is crack cocaine, seized a few days ago in a park across the street from the White House” — was the result of a drug buy specifically set up to match the words in the president’s speech. “Where the [expletive] is the White House?” asked the drug dealer when he was told the location for the drug sale.

In this case, what is the connection between this bridge and the jobs bill Obama is promoting?

The Facts

The Fact Checker grew up in Cincinnati and knows the terror that motorists feel as they drive across this bridge coming from the airport, which is on the Kentucky side of the river.

The bridge was built in 1963 to accommodate 80,000 vehicles per day, but daily traffic is approaching 200,000 vehicles, as the traffic of I-75 and I-71 must cross it. The bridge is also a vital part of the U.S. economy, where the value of the freight that passes over it each year is equal to about 3 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product.

The president, in his speech to Congress and in Cincinnati last week, certainly made it sound like passage of his jobs bill would mean construction workers would show up soon to begin fixing this urgent problem. The two ideas were directly linked in his speech to Congress:

“There are private construction companies all across America just waiting to get to work. There’s a bridge that needs repair between Ohio and Kentucky that’s on one of the busiest trucking routes in North America.”

And then, in a campaign-style rally last week in Cincinnati, he upped the ante, suggesting that Boehner and McConnell, by opposing his bill, were preventing the bridge from being rebuilt. “Mr. Boehner, Mr. McConnell, help us rebuild this bridge,” he shouted. “Help us rebuild America. Help us put construction workers back to work. Pass this bill.”

So Carney’s comment — “could speed up the process” — amounted to a very large asterisk on the president’s words.

We dug a little deeper, and no money in the jobs bill is intended for the bridge. But administration officials argue that the act would provide additional funding for the Federal Highway Administration, and some of that money could be used to speed up environmental and other approvals.

“This means that the environmental work could finish by February ’12. A contract could be awarded late in ’12, and the workers could begin construction on the approaches to the bridge, which is a big part of the project, in ’13,” one administration official said. Another official said the money could speed up other required steps.

We get a little wary when we hear “could” in every sentence of administration talking points. Indeed, congressional aides find this timeline highly dubious.

The public schedule for the bridge, which can be found here, has the environmental approval scheduled for July 2012, just four months later than the administration’s “could” time frame. Construction is not slated to start until 2015, while the president’s jobs bill would spend most of its money in its first year.

But even if we grant the administration this tenuous connection between the bridge and the jobs bill, the larger issue is that Obama pointed to this bridge and suggested that Republicans are blocking its reconstruction with their opposition to his legislation. (“Mr. Boehner, Mr. McConnell, help us rebuild this bridge. . . . Pass this bill.”)

Nothing could be further from the truth. There is a long history of bipartisan support for action to fix this bridge, such as this 2009 study announced by Rep. Geoff Davis (R-Ky.) and then-Rep. Steve Driehaus (D-Ohio) to highlight the benefits of the bridge project.

Indeed, the biggest issue in starting the bridge reconstruction is not various approvals, but obtaining the nearly $3 billion needed to complete the reconstruction. There is not enough money under current highway formulas for the two states to do this by themselves. Davis, whose district contains the bridge, testified before Congress earlier this year about the need to solve the funding problem. “The Brent Spence Bridge is one example of a transportation mega-project that is critical infrastructure to the American economy,” he said.

The Pinocchio Test

This is symbolism run amok. The president certainly could have used the bridge to highlight the infrastructure crisis facing the United States. But he went a bridge too far by repeatedly suggesting that his jobs bill would immediately bring construction crews to this particular project — and that Republican lawmakers who long have pleaded for federal help on the bridge are now callously thwarting its repair.

Three Pinocchios


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An award-winning journalism career spanning nearly three decades, Glenn Kessler has covered foreign policy, economic policy, the White House, Congress, politics, airline safety and Wall Street. He was The Washington Post's chief State Department reporter for nine years, traveling around the world with three different Secretaries of State. Before that, he covered tax and budget policy for The Washington Post and also served as the newspaper's national business editor. Kessler has long specialized in digging beyond the conventional wisdom, such as when he earned a "laurel" from the Columbia Journalism Review



Previously:

08/25/11: Obama's claim that GOP is holding up trade deals

08/11/11: Obama's claim that the debt problem can ‘go away’

06/22/11: AARP's misleading ad about balancing the budget

05/24/11: A rare Geppetto for Paul Ryan's assertion on Obama's hidden top marginal tax rate

05/16/11:Obama administration boasting about border security

05/11/11: Kathleen Sebelius's outrageous claim that cancer patients would 'die sooner' under the GOP Medicare plan

05/09/11: A gusher of oil rhetoric

05/04/11: The Obama administration's odd claims on export growth

04/28/11: How effective are sanctions in ‘changing behavior’?

04/14/11: ‘Biggest cuts in U.S. history’? Well, no.

04/08/11: Nancy Pelosi's absurd math on senior citizens losing their meals

04/06/11: Hillary Clinton's uncredible statement on Syria

03/25/11: Libya, Obama and the tragedy in Darfur

03/22/11: Gifts of bogus statistics for the health-care law's birthday

03/21/11: Mitch McConnell's not-so-happy birthday greetings for the health care law

03/10/11: A job-loss statistic produced out of thin air

03/10/17: A budget analogy that earns a Geppetto checkmark

03/10/11: Four pinocchios for the American public on the budget

03/09/11: Obama and the White House's ‘halfway’ fixation with the budget

03/08/11: Foreign policy braggadocio on Libya and AIDS

03/07/11: Democrats keep misleading on claimed budget ‘cuts’

03/01/11: Mike Huckabee is on to something here, but jumped the gun

02/25/11: Harry Reid's illusory $41 billion in budget cuts


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