- The Washington Times - Monday, December 12, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The mayors of major U.S. cities with substantial black populations have pulled together their lengthy Christmas wish lists, which are not unlike those of their 20th-century predecessors and 21st-century progressive counterparts.

In one, two-syllable word their common request is m-o-n-e-y.

They want money for roads and infrastructure. They want money for education. They want money for jobs. They want money for social programs. They want money for housing. They want money for climate change. They want money for first responders. They want money for health care.

What these mayors will deliver in return is as inauspicious as a Donald Trump administration, which speaks volumes considering four of America’s key mayors — Catherine Pugh of Baltimore, Rahm Emanuel of Chicago, Bill de Blasio of New York and Muriel Bowser of Washington, D.C. — already have expressed their wishes.

Oh, and by the way, they all are Democrats. Other mayors were signatories of an agenda that Mr. Emanuel passed along to Mr. Trump.

Now we know Mr. Trump is no Reagan conservative and no Bush I or II moderate. And if he’s straddling a fence, as Bill Clinton did and Hillary tried to do, it’s a fence of his own making.

Why, you ask? Mr. Trump said a lot of things on the campaign trail, and he probably couldn’t repeat them all verbatim if he were asked. Yet it’s something the president-elect said in his election night victory speech that still draws considerable attention more than a month later: “We are going to fix our inner cities and rebuild our highways, bridges, tunnels, airports, schools, hospitals. We’re going to rebuild our infrastructure, which will become, by the way, second to none. And we will put millions of our people to work as we rebuild it.”

Grab a pick ax, crank up a cement mixer or hop aboard some construction equipment and get busy. Americans are on their way — if they have the passion, skills and commitment to get and hold a job.

Liberals and progressives don’t want to admit that President Obama’s transportation bill, which touted more than $305 billion in federal spending and passed Congress last December, predicts some cost and spending levels for five years but fails to address who, precisely, will garner favorable employment rebuilding our roads, bridges, transportation systems and the like.

And, frankly, it cannot.

States and school districts are quick to claim bragging rights about higher graduation rates and rising academic-achievement rates. But when it comes to literally building a better, safer America, they hide the fact that in major cities, too many of those graduates are better at telling the difference between a McDonald’s and a KFC, or a taco and a burrito than they are a job from a career, or a patient’s bill of rights from the Bill of Rights.

Liberal and progressive politics are becoming the strongholds in “inner cities” like D.C., where policies reflecting anything close to conservatism are shunted and replaced with anything-and-everything-goes policies.

Rebuilding America’s infrastructure is a good public policy, and surely Transportation Secretary-nominee Elaine Ciao, Housing Secretary-nominee Ben Carson, Labor Secretary-nominee Andy Puzder and Education Secretary-nominee Betsy DeVos are smart enough to know that who’s building what and where should consider some socio-economic factors in their deliberations. One question definitely worthy of asking is: Are the people who actually live in the inner cities prepared to do the rebuilding?

That’s the $305 billion question neither Mr. Obama nor the inner city mayors with the wish lists will truthfully answer.

Frankly, they’d rather point their crooked fingers at Republicans and conservatives than at the shortcomings of their own constituents — or at themselves, for that matter.

The Trump transition team should keep that in mind, especially when perusing those wish lists. Hint: D.C. is a perfect example, since construction workers from states far above and below the Mason-Dixon Line have been tending to the D.C. homestead since the 2007-08 housing debacle.

Mr. Trump himself is unlikely to dig into such nuts and bolts. However, the mayors and their union supporters know the details. Besides, it’s no coincidence that while Big Labor backed Hillary, the rank-and-file hurtled Mr. Trump to victory.

One of the last things America needs after four years of a Republican White House and a Republican Congress is Mr. Trump singing his own version of inner city blues.

Deborah Simmons can be contacted at [email protected]

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