Monday, February 9, 2009

The Senate Ax

The effectiveness of the stimulus package was significantly neutered in the latest version of the US Senate's proposed bill. For the sake of enticing 3 members of the minority party to support the bill, the leadership went along with cutting the life rope to hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people looking for jobs.

Some of the cuts:

$40 billion to shore up distressed cities, towns, and states after years of less-than-the-minimum funding. New infrastructure and planning projects (as well as routine maintenance) have been on hold for years awaiting adequate funding. Now, with light at the end of the tunnel, an army of planners, contractors, material suppliers, laborers (and the families and businesses they would potentially support) may have their hopes dashed.

$3.5 billion from an initiative that will retrofit public buildings for energy-efficiency creating jobs in the short term and saving the citizenry money well into the future.

$16 billion from school construction and modernization. Again, this is a huge job creator. There is plenty of pent-up demand as schools have also been chronically underfunded in recent years.

$1 billion from Early Headstart. This, I can attest to personally. The local Headstart agency, a client of mine, is planning an Early Learning Center. The demand is there, and studies universally show that added attention at this critical age (zero to three) makes a monumental difference in the lives of those served and everyone they touch. If you want to place this in pure economic terms, children served by Early Headstart are far more likely to be productive, taxpaying citizens, thus reducing the burden on taxpayers that the ax-wielders say they say they want. (By the way, I look at this as a human issue, not an economic equation; the economics just happen to work out in the favor of the taxpayer on this one). In addition to job creation in my own office, hundreds of people will gain some level of employment from the project in the planning, construction, and operation of this needed facility.

For a list of the Senate's proposed cuts, link to this CNN story. Let's hope, for the economic health of the nation, that support where needed will not be lost to the same old starvation ideology that got us into the dire straits we're experiencing today.

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