Shhhh! The problems both candidates don’t want to face

The US presidential rivals have remained silent on some very serious issues, says Conor Ryan.

THE final weeks of the election were dominated with talk of tenuous links to former terrorists and the now-famous Joe the Plumber from Toldeo, Ohio.

However, debates on such trivia covered-up many deep problems facing America which the candidates did not want to talk about either through national embarrassment or political sensitivities.

Away from the carefully chosen sound-bites these are just some of the problems the next president will have on his table, but preferred not to talk about on the campaign trail.

Roads:

In 2007, 13 people died when a major Minneapolis road bridge collapsed. Engineers say hundreds more aging structures are at risk.

One year later the Republican National Convention was held in Minneapolis/St Paul and the bridge tragedy was hardly mentioned.

Many cash-strapped states have motorways blighted by potholes and crumbling concrete but lack the resources to invest.

Barack Obama flirted with a comprehensive strategy for infrastructure but an aversion to tax increases has prevented him from outlining what he will do and how he will pay for it.

Native Americans:

Native American reservations consistently rank among the most impoverished districts in the country. They are dragged down by high-rates of substance abuse, school drop-outs and unemployment. But the community has been ignored.

The Native American population is spread out in Republican strongholds and does not have the strength in numbers in any one area.

Compared to the Jewish community in Florida, which can decide the direction of the state’s 27 electoral college votes, Native Americans are not key to battleground states.

Water:

Inland America fears a thirsty future and tensions are simmering in competing states.

Populating the Nevada desert, farming the Great Plains and supporting a nature-defying city like Las Vegas require phenomenal amounts of scarce fresh water.

In the midst of the $700 billion bailout crisis the government quietly signed legislation prohibiting the extraction of water from the Great Lakes — protecting that source for now.

Meanwhile Colorado is desperately trying to hoard its rights to the Colorado River from parched states down stream.

In trying to appease his own state of Arizona McCain suggested renegotiating the river’s water rights. He immediately retracted this because while he should safely win Arizona the comment created uproar in Colorado where he may lose.

Superfund:

A lake in Butte, Montana, is so polluted with copper effluent when a flock of geese landed on it they shortly after died of stomach ulcers.

Many other areas from Louisiana to the Canadian border boast toxic remnants of the country’s ruthless extraction of natural resources.

The Superfund pays for the cleanup, but it is expensive and in a time of tightening budgets is an obvious victim. Meanwhile legislation to make it more efficient has stumbled since the Bill Clinton administration.

But with drinking water in danger and lawsuits a constant threat the man in the Oval Office will have to figure out how to clean up the mess.

Guantanamo Bay:

Guantanamo Bay, the Cuban-based prison camp for suspected terrorists, will be a headache for the next president.

Both candidates opposed it and the torture committed within its cages.

However, throughout the campaign both avoided detailing how they would close the camp and what would happen to its prisoners.

The next president will decide how to bring prisoners to trial despite improper arrest, inhumane treatment and suspect evidence.

State Bankruptcy:

For 30-years politicians won elections with a promise to cut taxes and for three decades debt has spiralled and budgets have not been balanced.

California is not alone in facing bankruptcy, but its plight is the most urgent, agreement on handling its $15.2 billion deficit was overdue by 11 weeks, because nobody could agree on where to make savings.

At least eight more states are facing similar dilemmas.

States that enjoy independence funding from federal government are a thorny issue and a bailout for governors that failed to balance the books would be an unpopular move.

More in this section

IE_logo_newsletters

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox