Federal assistance to Detroit necessary: Financial aid to American cities not a “bailout”

The city of Detroit filed for bankruptcy on July 18, making history as the largest city ever to do so. The city’s debt and obligations are currently more than $18 billion. On Sept. 27, the White House announced a $320 million aid package for the city.

Fortunately, this announcement took place before the government shutdown, which officially started on Oct. 1. The money comes from a combination of federal and private funds.

Portions of the money have been set aside for specific areas of the city. $150 million have been committed to the demolition of unusable buildings and neighborhood reconstruction.

Some of the money will also be used to hire more police officers and firefighters as well as to fund youth programs.

This aid, despite being only a tiny fraction of what Detroit actually needs, is important in demonstrating the federal government’s position on assisting struggling cities.

With the government shutdown, however, it is clear that the country is severely divided over the actual role of government.

When the city first declared bankruptcy in July, Sen. John Cornyn, along with several other Republican senators, pushed an amendment targeting cities like Detroit that would prevent the federal government from bailing out any city.

The amendment was shut down; however, the implications of the amendment’s proposal should be taken seriously.

When Cornyn spoke on the Senate floor regarding his amendment, he stated that the government should not “bail out Detroit or any American city that mismanages its public finances,” disregarding the fact that Detroit never asked the government for a bailout in the first place.

This proposal is only one of many examples of the Republican agenda to stop President Obama from acting.

To be clear, the $320 million aid package is not a bailout. The administration gathered existing federal funds as well as private funds in order to indicate to the city that it would not be left behind.

What the aid to Detroit demonstrates is that the federal government cannot ignore our current economic problems.

For example, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Detroit’s unemployment rate as of July was at 18.8 percent, one of the highest in the country. The aid is an important step to making sure the city does not continue to fall.

Even though the President was able to bring together money for Detroit, the attempt made by Republican senators to restrict government bailouts to American cities, especially Detroit, is part of a counterproductive agenda to stop the Obama administration from achieving its goals.

The proposal to ban government bailouts for cities along with countless attempts to halt the Affordable Care Act have culminated into one huge interruption of government: the actual shutdown.

The Republicans in the House of Representatives were adamant about rejecting any spending bill that did not include at least some provisions that would undermine “Obamacare” in some way.

The Republicans have made it very clear that they do not approve of the types of government spending that President Obama has been proposing, but this is not a reason to halt all government business from taking place.

The proposal by Sen. Cornyn, for example, was a huge overreaction. Cornyn automatically assumed that the president would try to bail out Detroit.

The proposal bans government bailouts of all cities without discussing what might be done to help that specific city.

At this point, it is no longer about which side is correct on every issue, but instead is a matter of the refusal on the part of the GOP to compromise.

Perhaps if the Republican House were more eager to discuss instead of fight, there could be some progress. Unfortunately, this is not the case and it may not be for some time.

It is fortunate that the Obama Administration was able to give some aid to Detroit before government business was halted, but if the Republican House is allowed to continuously derail the possibility of progress, Detroit, as well as the rest of the country, will continue to get worse.

The government shutdown only further demonstrates the Republicans’ lack of concern for individuals in this country who are experiencing true suffering.