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Dem Senator: North Carolina Bridges Aren’t in Danger of Falling

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By Doug Powers  •  September 23, 2011 05:01 PM

**Written by Doug Powers

To say that President Obama’s justifications to sell the “jobs bill” are overstated would be an understatement. Even members of his own party are on standby with belt sanders to smooth down the sharp exaggerations that are troubling their constituencies.

From CNS News:

Reacting to President Barack Obama’s statement last week that there were 153 “structurally deficient” bridges in North Carolina and that the government should not wait “until another bridge falls” to take action, Sen. Kay Hagan (D.-N.C.) insisted there are no bridges in her state in danger of falling.

“No, no there are not any bridges in North Carolina in danger of falling,” Hagan said when CNSNews.com asked her about Obama’s statement about North Carolina’s “structurally deficient” bridges.

As for “structurally deficient,” a term that Obama uses because it reeks of imminent danger, there’s this:

The Federal Highway Administration applies that scary-sounding label to thousands of bridges across the nation. It basically means the bridge needs careful maintenance and repair to stay in service, and eventually it will have to be rehabilitated or replaced – or closed.

“Structurally deficient doesn’t necessarily mean that they are dangerous,” said Tom Crosby, spokesman for the Charlotte-based AAA Carolinas motor club, which lobbies for more money to replace old bridges. “If these bridges were dangerous, they would close them down and immediately begin work on them.”

I like the way the Beaufort Observer phrased the Obama approach:

Obama appears to have undercounted his bridges. And at the same time – employing the deft spin that political speakers use when they spice up a little information to make a big impression – the president may have over-suggested the risk to public safety.

“Over-suggested” is great substitute for those who don’t want to say “scaremongering” or at the very least “fibbing,” but if the condition of bridges was indeed dire and required a $445 billion outlay for public safety, there should be no need to overstate the situation. Even the bridge that President Obama uses as an example to justify his jobs bill didn’t fall because it wasn’t properly maintained, but rather because of a design flaw.

All I know is that there must not be a lot of bridges in Harry Reid’s district, because he’s still in no hurry to introduce the “American Jobs to Keep Bridges from Collapsing Act.”

**Written by Doug Powers

Twitter @ThePowersThatBe

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Categories: Barack Obama, Health care, New York Times, Paul Krugman