On February 17, Lauren McCauley of Common Dreams reported that Senator Bernard Sanders had spoken at a rally in Michigan and
said that Flint “may be the worst example of a collapsing infrastructure, but it is not the only example.”
Sanders contrasted those who question the expense of replacing Flint’s damaged pipes and water infrastructure to the “trillions” spent on waging war in Iraq and Afghanistan. “When we went to war in Iraq, the trillions we spent there, not a problem,” Sanders said.
Throughout the campaign for the Democratic nomination, Sanders has repeatedly differentiated himself from his opponent Hillary Clinton over their opposing votes on the Iraq War—which she supported and he did not. Both candidates, however, have made the ongoing water crisis in Flint a focus of their campaigns with Clinton visiting the city earlier this month.
And so they have, while GOP candidates for President largely have stayed silent, which was positive given what they would have said. Sanders (in debate, below) and Clinton responded much more rapidly than did Republicans and have been much more decisive, as well as wiser in their assessment of the situation.
But their responses have been inadequate- and disappointing in the case of Sanders, the "democratic socialist," from whom much more should have been expected. Fortunately, we now know what we should have heard. At the hearing held by the House Government Oversight Committee on Thursday, Representative William Clay (D-MO.) observed (hat tip to Eclectablog)
You know, I have to hand it to my Republican colleagues. They are actually making their argument with a straight face. And, you know, just to be clear, Republicans here today are claiming that the EPA – the Obama EPA – should have been more aggressive in stepping in and seizing control and overruling the Republican-controlled state of Michigan. They are just outraged that the EPA wasn’t more assertive with Michigan and didn’t immediately go public with their complaints about the state’s failure to follow the law. Ms. McCarthy, the irony is almost overwhelming, isn’t it? Republicans have been absolutely slamming the EPA for overreaching at every possible turn. Now they criticize the EPA for not doing more when Gov. Snyder fell down on the job.
Let’s go through some of these ridiculous government statements.
Donald Trump has called for entirely eliminating the EPA and handing power over to the states. He said this, and I quote, “Environmental protection, we waste all of this money. We’re going to bring this back to the states. […]
Another Republican candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz, agrees with Mr. Trump. He said this, and I quote, “I think states should press back using every tool they have available. […]
Marco Rubio, now a former Republican candidate, has vowed to scale back the Clean Water Act. He said this: “Regulations in this country are out of control, especially the ‘Employment Prevention Agency’, the EPA.” […]
Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa said this: “Let’s shut down the federal EPA and focus on those issues where, here in the state, the state knows best how to protect resources.” […]
Obviously the state of Michigan did not know best in this case. They poisoned thousands of their own people. […]
House Republicans, including some in this room, have voted at every turn to gut the EPA’s authority to enforce the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, and the list goes on.
That is a healthy dose of partisanship, needed and enlightening, which has not been heard from anyone named Clinton, Sanders, Obama, or Carter. Neither has any of those individuals drawn the obvious cause and effect, explained by Charlie Pierce as
Regardless of who sent what memo to whom and when they sent it, the crisis in Flint is the result of a full implementation and exercise of a philosophy of government that noisy pissants like Chaffetz, Grothman, Carter, and Rick Snyder have proposed as a solution to almost all the nation's problems—government is bad, government bureaucrats are always incompetent, devolve federal powers to the states, and that government is best that is limited and, preferably, run like a business.
We haven't gotten anything like either remark from the Democrats running for President. Of course, neither has it been uttered from the former, living "Democratic" presidents- Bill Clinton or Jimmy Carter nor the current one. Perhaps with a few breaks, and the realization of the populist mood in the land, the next President- if a Democrat- will talk the talk and walk the walk (or at least avoid such bad cliches). Hope springs eternal.