Archive for the ‘roads’ Category

Senate Stimulated: Obama Economic Bill Under Revision

February 3, 2009

Perhaps, after all, bipartisanship lives in the United States Senate.

The issue is the President’s economic or recovery package, also called the stimulus.

Top Democrats plan to add a big increase in highway and mass transit funding.

Patty Murray, D-Wash., wants to add $25 billion in infrastructure projects.  That would bring the U.S. stimulus more in line with the plan now favored by France.

France yesterday rejected a stimulus plan without a lot of real infrastructureimprovements as “too much like the ‘Obama style’ plan.”

Highway projects in the stimulus would also be boosted by almost 50 percent, to $40 billion.

Republicans, for their part, readied a plan to lower mortgage costs to try to jolt the housing market out of its slump.

Sen. Mel Martinez (R-FL) offered a plan with  $713 billion. He says his plan offers more immediate jobs and tax cuts and a smaller increase to the debt.

The $885 billion Senate economic plan faces tough going from both Democrats and Republicans during debate this week.

The proposal includes $430 billion in tax cuts, $114 billion for infrastructure projects, $138 billion for extending unemployment insurance, food stamps and other provisions to help those in need and $31 billion to address the housing crisis.

“The goal is to shape a package that is more targeted, that would be smaller in size and that would be truly focused on saving or creating jobs and turning the economy around,” said Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine.

Non-job making items in the House version of the simulus like $870 million to combat bird flu should be removed….

Republicans said their goal was to change the bill, not to block it. “Nobody that I know of is trying to keep a package from passing,” said Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader.

“We need to fix housing first,” he said. Republicans are expected to seek a vote on their proposals this week as part of the debate on the overall stimulus measure.

Related:
http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS
/02/02/stimulus/index.html

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky,. discusses the ... 
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky,. discusses the Republican viewpoint on the economic stimulus package as he meets with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, Feb. 2, 2009. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
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Stimulus plan mixes short, long-term job goals

January 31, 2009

No matter the color of your work shirt, this recession is sparing few. From blue collar construction workers to white collar financial sector employees, the economic crisis has dragged a growing swath of American workers into joblessness.

Economic downturns predominantly used to hit blue-collar and young workers. But in this recession, layoffs and business closings are affecting bankers, middle managers, even scientists and journalists.

White collar unemployment jumped 1.6 percentage points — to 4.6 percent — from December of 2007 to December of 2008. But blue-collar workers are still bearing the largest brunt of unemployment, at 11.3 percent.

The shared pain helps explain the varied priorities in the $800 billion-plus rescue package put together by President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. The $50 billion for building roads, bridges and schools addressed the hardest hit of the unemployed first — hardhat workers.

By JIM KUHNHENN, Associated Press Writer

But there are also piles of wage-producing money for college-educated workers: $62 billion in the House version for health information and renewable energy technology, improving the nation’s power grid and scientific research. Getting it all to them will take longer.

Policymakers are also counting on greater public acceptance for social spending — on the likes of food stamps, unemployment and health insurance — because the victims of the collapse in housing and credit markets cross socio-economic levels.

“The intensity of where we are right now creates a much larger scale of interest by the public,” said Lawrence Mishel, president of the liberal Economic Policy Institute. “You need many more sectors to recover and broad-based policies for that are a new challenge.”

Republicans complain that too much is being directed to expanding the safety net for assisting victims and argue that tax cuts, particularly those addressed at businesses, will produce more sustainable jobs over the long term.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/2009013
1/ap_on_go_pr_wh/stimulus_jobs

American Indians could reap almost $3B in stimulus

January 28, 2009

American Indians stand to gain almost $3 billion as part of the economic stimulus moving through Congress, money that could help some of the nation’s poorest communities rebuild roads, improve health care and boost employment that has lagged behind the rest of the country for decades.

By MARY CLARE JALONICK, Associated Press Writer

The Senate Appropriations Committee on Tuesday included $2.8 billion for Indian tribes in its portion of the nearly $900 billion economic stimulus bill, and a House version to be voted on Wednesday includes a similar amount. That includes hundreds of millions of dollars for schools, health clinics, roads, law enforcement and water projects.

Dante Desiderio, an economic development policy specialist at the National Congress of American Indians, which has lobbied for the money for the past year, calls the bill a “once in a lifetime opportunity” for tribes.

“It really has the potential to lift our communities out of poverty,” Desiderio said.

Indian Country has a long way to go in terms of reviving tribal economies. According to the National Congress of American Indians, real per-capita income of Indians living on reservations is still less than half the national average, unemployment is twice that of the rest of the country, and eight of the 10 poorest counties in the United States are on reservations.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090128/ap_o
n_go_co/stimulus_american_indians

Obama’s Stimulus: Routine Repairs; Lacks “Power to stir men’s souls”

December 14, 2008

President-elect  Barack Obama calls it “the largest new investment in our national infrastructure since the creation of the federal highway system in the 1950s.” New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg compares it to the New Deal — when workers built hundreds of bridges, dams and parkways — while saying it could help close the gap with China, where he recently traveled on a Shanghai train at 267 mph.

By Alec MacGillis and Michael D. Shear
The Washington Post


Above: Shanghai’s high speed train

Most of the infrastructure spending being proposed for the massive stimulus package that Obama and congressional Democrats are readying, however, is not exactly the stuff of history, but destined for routine projects that have been on the to-do lists of state highway departments for years. Oklahoma wants to repave stretches of Interstates 35 and 40 and build “cable barriers” to keep wayward cars from crossing medians. New Jersey wants to repaint 88 bridges and restore Route 35 from Toms River to Mantoloking. Scottsdale, Ariz., wants to widen 1.5 miles of Scottsdale Road.

On the campaign trail, Obama said he would “rebuild America” with an “infrastructure bank” run by a new board that would award $60 billion over a decade to projects such as high-speed rail to take the country in a more energy-efficient direction. But the crumbling economy, while giving impetus to big spending plans, has also put a new emphasis on projects that can be started immediately — “use it or lose it,” Obama said last week — and created a clear tension between the need to create jobs fast and the desire for a lasting legacy.

“It doesn’t have the power to stir men’s souls,” said David Goldberg of Smart Growth America. “Repair and maintenance are good. We need to make sure we’re building bridges that stand, not bridges to nowhere. But to gild the lily . . . where we’re resurfacing pieces of road that aren’t that critical, just to be able to say we spent the money, is not what we’re after.”

Related:
Obama is, Viewed Pragmatically, Interested in “What Works,” Practically

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/arti
cle/2008/12/13/AR2008121301819.html?hpid=topnews

Critics From Right and Left Call Obama’s Stimulus “Road to Nowhere”

December 11, 2008

Barack Obama’s massive infrastructure spending plan to jump-start the economy isn’t being criticized just by conservative critics. His chief economic adviser once called the idea one of the “less effective options” the president-elect is now promoting.

In a strategy paper in January that studied various economic stimulus proposals, economist Jason Furman wrote that spending hundreds of billions of dollars to repair or rebuild the nation’s roads, bridges, rail lines and other infrastructure was “likely to be less effective in spurring economic activity.”

The reason: Big infrastructure spending bills “do not provide well-timed stimulus or because there is considerable economic and administrative uncertainty about how they might work,” Mr. Furman said.

While such public works spending “might provide an important boost to long-term growth,” he doubted it “would generate significant short-term stimulus” because all too often the money is not pumped into the nation’s economic bloodstream “until after the economy had recovered.”

By  
The Washington Times 

One expects Mr. Obama’s fiscally conservative economic critics to beat up his big-spending, New Deal-era idea, but when his top economic adviser puts his plan’s core in the “less effective options” column, that’s news.

But even other supporters of his giant stimulus have begun voicing doubts about whether a huge spending package, possibly in the $500 billion to $700 billion range, can be spent quickly enough to have an impact on the recession. And some of them fear the spending may result in more wasteful pork-barrel spending.

The Obama plan will likely include, among other things, tax rebates for low- to middle-income workers, unemployment compensation and increased food stamps, Medicaid funding and other social safety net assistance. But infrastructure spending, pushed by the nation’s governors, has become the plan’s chief focus.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2
008/dec/11/stimulus-road-to-nowhere/