Eliot Spitzer reflects on the critical role government will play in recovery from superstorm Sandy
“My View” from the Oct. 31, 2012, edition of “Viewpoint with Eliot Spitzer.”
“Who built that?” was the question that framed the election for a month during convention season as the Republican Party tried to mock the sensible and correct argument made by President Obama that government had in fact built much of what made our economy tick: from many of the essential pieces of our infrastructure, to the great public universities that produce groundbreaking technology, to funding research and development. All of this is what permits and helps our economy to forge ahead.
And put aside for the moment that the speakers at the Republican convention took the president’s statement totally out of context — asserting that the president claimed government built the businesses, not the surrounding infrastructure that permits businesses to thrive.
Ignoring the facts, speaker after speaker came to the podium at the Republican convention and said mockingly, “We built that,” as if to debunk the need for government. The speeches in fact captured the disdain that Romney encouraged for all things governmental until his recent, late-night conversion to “moderate Mitt.”
Well, I have a slight reformulation of the question for the folks who live in the path of Sandy: “Who rebuilt that?”
Who showed up in this moment of great need to provide shelter and emergency medical assistance? Who helped to rescue families from flooded areas and provided transport for the elderly? Who will be there to help fix the critical infrastructure that Sandy crippled?
Suddenly Chris Christie is appreciative of FEMA funding, the same agency the Romney-Ryan budget would utterly decimate. Suddenly even Republicans are talking respectfully of the need for the mass transit system to work, for bridges to be reopened, for all the government actions and investments that were heretofore mere impediments, in their view, to the private sector.
It is too bad that it takes a tragedy like Sandy to get some folks to appreciate the essential role that government investments play in our society. But maybe after the storm has passed and the election has faded at least a week or two into our memories, we can agree that government really did build something critical that we all need and should be thankful for.
That’s “My View.”