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As Detroit Drowns, GOP says: 'Bailouts For Banks, Not People'

With fangs out, Republicans push to codify national abandonment of the city

Sarah Lazare

The Obama administration is making no sign of helping Detroit as its emergency manager and republican governor steer the city towards bankruptcy proceedings.

Yet, that is not enough assurance for some in the GOP who are pushing for passage of a law explicitly banning the bailout of Detroit, and any other municipality for that matter.

At least five republican senators have recently proposed tacking language onto spending bills that would broadly prohibit municipal bailouts.

These proposed measures, which would have far-reaching implications for towns and cities across the US if passed, are aimed towards preventing any federal aid to Detroit.

GOP leaders are attacking the city with notable venom at the moment its 700,000 residents—80 percent of whom are African-American—must contend with deepening crises of poverty and privatization.

Rising numbers of Republicans are declaring that the city has dug its own grave and does not deserve federal help. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) declared Thursday that Congress must not, under any circumstance, "bail out Detroit or any American city that mismanages its public finances."

Yet, when Wall Street took a hit from its self-made 2008 financial crisis—which devastated towns and cities across the US, including Detroit—Republicans and Democrats stood behind a massive federal bailout of big banks, pushed forward under George W. Bush, with President Obama picking up the baton.

Today, there is little interest from either side of the aisle to extend a helping hand to the largest city to file for bankruptcy in US history.

Unions appealed to members of Congress not to turn their backs on the city. In a statement Thursday, AFSCME Detroit Local 207 president Lee Saunders declared:

The whole country is watching how this crisis gets resolved. As the nation emerges from the worst of the Great Recession, it is time for Congress and the White House to make it clear they will not turn their backs on our urban centers.

Nearly 60 percent of Detroit children live in poverty and 33 percent of all land sits vacant. Half of all streetlights are non-functional, and a majority of public parks have shut down.

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