Speaker Paul Ryan is a bit smarter than his predecessor John Boehner. As a famous country song goes, you need to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em. Withholding money for Flint was a losing hand for Republicans. The amount of funding was insignificant compared to the overall budget, and the political ads that the Democrats could run against Republicans would be pure election gold. Sure, you can hold to principle and say that this is a local issue, however the argument can also be made from a conservative perspective that the water issues in Flint are on par with hurricanes, forest fires, and earthquakes in terms of effect, and emergency disaster based on an urgent health need justifies the aid. That said, actions need to be taken to make sure that states and localities start addressing their infrastructure needs at the appropriate state and local levels. Federal infrastructure spending needs to increase to address the urgent needs caused by neglect of the Federal infrastructure system, but states need to step up and address those issues under state control before they become national health crises. States and localities should not plan on allowing a public health crisis to leverage money out of the Federal Government to fix the infrastructure that is under their control. Speaker Ryan had to fold the hand on this one; now he needs to make sure that states and localities don’t continue to deal from the bottom of the deck to supplement their own infrastructure and financial responsibilities.
Jenni Contrisciani is a management/political consultant, born and raised in Flint Michigan and graduated from the local Kearsley High School.