On what was likely his last conference call of the year with Ohio media, Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio said he and state-mate U.S. Sen. Rob Portman will safeguard the $50 million “Smart City Challenge” grant awarded to Columbus by former President Barack Obama’s department of transportation, should White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney try to repurpose it.

Brown, running for a third term next year, told this reporter that he doesn’t worry the Trump Administration would try to take away the funding because he and Portman would shut it down.

This reporter’s question on the issue — put as a two-fer for Republicans because it would repurpose already awarded funds to subsidize corporations and rich people and at the same time hurt a Democrat city (Columbus) with a Democrat mayor (Andrew Ginther) and an all-Democratic city council in a Democratic County (Franklin) — was called “cynical” by Brown.

The two-term senator has has gone out of his way to not overtly attack Donald Trump in personal or professional ways. Recall, Trump won Ohio last year by almost one-half million votes, and Brown’s third run, which will be nasty and expensive in 2018, doesn’t need to poke Trump’s Ohio hornet’s nest anymore than his candidacy does already.

Still, cynical would be exactly the right word to explain the recently passed GOP tax-cut bill’s punishment of Democratic stronghold states like California and New York, among other states where Democrats hold governorships and control the legislature, that reduces the ceiling on deducting state and local taxes to just $10,000.

Infrastructure Spending Uncertain

On other matters, Brown slammed the big bill Republicans rallied around despite its massive inequities as being essentially immoral. Brown said the bill revealed “what Republican priorities are,” adding that it makes “big cuts to everything we care about.”

This reporter asked the former Democratic congressman and two-term secretary of state if Republicans returning next year to find savings to offset the debt the tax cut bill runs up means spending on an infrastructure bill is essentially doomed?

“That a good question,” Brown said. He noted that spending big on infrastructure when GOP congressional leaders are looking to reduce government spending when they return next year could be a long, hard slog. Mid-term elections slated for next year will complicate what GOP congressional leaders want to do, if they hope to retain their current majorities.

Generic Democrats are winning the hearts and minds of voters over generic Republicans. Toppling the apple car with more spending that benefits Democrats while disadvantaging Republicans doesn’t seem plausible in the hyper-political climate of Trump and company.

 

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