The American Jobs Act Analyzed
The American Jobs Act includes many proposals that I hope Congress will enact, but I’m truly disappointed that President Obama hasn’t laid out the roadmap for a truly sustainable economy.
First, what to appreciate in the American Jobs Act? Almost all of it, but especially the creation of a national infrastructure bank to leverage public-private capital to modernize our roads, rails, airports and waterways. The American Society of Civil Engineers has given the U.S. a dismal “D” because of the sorry state of our infrastructure, which we have neglected for decades. President Obama is tackling this challenge head-on and creating jobs at the same time. The bipartisan infrastructure bank will take the politics out of the process so, hopefully, we won’t be building bridges to nowhere in the future.
Obama wants to modernize our schools—including rural schools, BIA schools and community colleges—to make sure students have the latest technology, and science and computer labs. He also wants to invest in neighborhoods with high vacancy and foreclosure rates, creating new construction jobs and using creative solutions like land banks to reduce blight and crime. Let’s hope that his proposal to pay for these items includes increasing the tax rates on the very wealthy and not asking for more sacrifice from workers and unions.
When it comes to a sustainable economy for the long-haul, President Obama has missed the big enchilada in my estimation. Here’s what he should have told Congress and the American public last Thursday.
1) The U.S. economy is on life support and it’s now time to pull the plug. We need to transition to a new economy—one that we’ve never seen but we know can be better than the current fix we’re in. Band-Aids and bailouts will no longer work. A new economy is one that supports the people, the environment and future generations; not the Wall Street bankers and hedge fund managers.
2) All of the indicators tell us that we are interconnected with the rest of the world. We have reached Peak Oil and we are dangerously passing many tipping points in our global climate. Other nations have begun the serious work of transitioning away from fossil fuels; we must too. We must create an economy supported by green, renewable energy, and incentivize green technology. Let’s recapture the tax breaks provided to the fossil fuel industry years ago. Times have changed, and so must we.
3) We must strengthen Main Street, our local communities and creative entrepreneurs who will build the new economy from the ground up. Wall Street and the banks had their bailouts. Now they must open their doors and begin aggressively lending to qualified companies and individuals in our communities.
4) We must measure success based on what we truly want. Every American will agree that we want an economy that supports human and natural health, that improves our happiness and well-being, and that strengthens a sustainable future for our children and grandchildren. Our old, dysfunctional economy does not give us what we want because we are measuring success based on financial indicators, and incentivizing the wrong things.
We can transition to a new economy, but it won’t be easy and it won’t happen overnight. If we prolong our painful economy on life-support and fail to take the first steps down this new path, the transition will be much more painful than today’s unemployment figures suggest.
Style Over Substance
The mayor still has one of his four unnecessary "ABQ the Plan" boutique/fluff projects on the ballot—the $25 million sports complex for outsiders, an unneeded project desired by his City Council loyalist Brad Winter. The scam being played on voters is that we must vote for this wasteful make-work project for the Mayor's friends if we want $25 million to start building the much needed I-25/Paseo interchange.
A year or so ago the administration lied to citizens and the councilors when saying the $20 million that had been committed to the rejected Tiger federal grant request for the interchange could not be used because it could not be built incrementally. Much of that $20 million was then squandered on streetscape projects misrepresented by the administration as road rehabilitation projects. That administration lie has now been exposed and the token $25 million dedicated to the interchange in this bond issue is paying only lip service to this vital need. Over 125,000 vehicles each day pass through this intersection. Reject this GRT bond and ask for a new one next year committing all $50 million to the interchange.
Also take a hard look at the other bond measures on the ballot and for once decide to lower our taxes by rejecting those that can be deferred to future years in this bad economy. Telling us that it won't raise taxes is a poor excuse for continuing to pass bond measures that perpetuate the waste of our tax dollars by the administration.
This mayor is clearly not fiscally responsible, as his philosophy is that we taxpayers must be the ones responsible for keeping his builder and developer friends working on such temporary make-work boutique projects such as this unneeded sports complex. With him, it's always style over substance when it comes to spending our tax dollars.
[Re: Letters, “CABQ vs. AIC,” Sept. 8-14] I congratulate the government in its efforts to reduce waste by eliminating duplicate programs such as the Albuquerque Indian Center (AIC). The AIC clients’ needs can be fulfilled by other similar programs. The days of excess are over. We all have to learn to live with less. I suspect the president and the board members of the AIC are more concerned about their cushy jobs in their turquoise-lined offices.
Blame It on the Rain
Dear Alibi ,
In December 2007, there was a rally and fundraiser for Ron Paul. Because of Paul's near anarchical leanings it was called Tea Party, after the event of 1773 that helped spur the American Revolution. The event set fundraising records, and along with cutting spending and reducing government, Paul called for halting giveaways to foreign governments and ending the prison industrial complex by legalizing weed. His foreign policy critiques earned him scorn from other Republicans like Mike Huckabee and Rudy Giuliani.
Fast-forward to 2009: GOP operatives and figures like Dick Armey and Sal Russo, along with current politicians like Jim DeMint and Michele Bachmann, backed by Koch Industries, appropriated the tea party concept. But rather than embrace Paul's platform, they went for the GOP boilerplate and threw in anti-liberalism and also appealed to racism: The debt and deficit magically ballooned when Obama was sworn in—not that Bush ran up record debts and deficits in addition to two military campaigns. The mortgage crisis was not because of financial deregulation but because Democrats, the minority party for 12 years, made banks lend to untrustworthy minorities. (Research has shown subprime loans were issued overwhelmingly by private lenders with no Community Reinvestment Act requirements, and most borrowers were white, middle income clients.)
And then the tea party claims that Obama did not win his election, but that "their" country was "stolen'' by coalition of Acorn, George Soros and SEIU—code for minorities, foreigners, Jews. The tea party's upper ranks have appropriated the Nazis' rhetoric about how it is not corporations and politicians that have damaged the country but "other boogeymen.'' However, the country they want is a banana republic where the few oligarchs have everything and the rest are serfs, held down by the military or national police. The TP is biggest scam on America since Milli Vanilli.
Love Really Is Blind
[Re: Ask Kat Curious, “The Real Deal-Breaker,” Sept. 1-7] Great advice—for both the men and women. I recently met a guy—let me rephrase—I recently started dating an old friend of mine. Before we started dating I told him it would never work out because he had a few traits that were on my "no go" list. After spending lots of time with him and getting to know him better, I got over it. It helped that since we've been dating one thing fell off the list when he got his GED (with honors, no less). Perhaps "got over it" is the wrong term. I accepted his "faults" because I grew to love him and saw the big picture and not just the checklist we sometimes see when trying to find a mate.
Letters should be sent with the writer’s name, address and daytime phone number via email to email@example.com. They can also be faxed to (505) 256-9651. Letters may be edited for length and clarity, and may be published in any medium; we regret that owing to the volume of correspondence we cannot reply to every letter. Word count limit for letters is 300 words.