Saturday, February 21, 2009

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009

A good friend called me a junkie yesterday when my posted status on facebook said that I was reading the stimulus bill. He may have a valid point. (I assume he was implying I am a political junkie.) However, you too can read the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 here on line.

I have mixed emotions regarding the Act. I am both worried and excited about the possibilities for the stimulus money. It is from this place of anxiety that I feel compelled to read the Act for myself rather than satisfy myself with the many interpretations I keep hearing in the media. Maybe it is the lawyer in me.

For example I remember when the Patriot Act was proposed. I read it immediately and then I was appalled when it passed. I swear to this day that our law makers didn't read it before they signed it. The same may be true for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. However, I admit I feel a lot better about this Act than I did the Patriot Act although I'm sure there are many who disagree with me.

Nevertheless, I think that we all have a responsibility to learn as much as we can about this Act that is putting future generations of our children deeply in debt.I worry that the monies will be spent frivolously. I think we have a tremendous responsibility to make certain the funds are put to good use. They should be used to make our country less dependent on oil and to generally make our country greener and more energy efficient.

I also think that it is important to know what it says so that we here in Youngstown can make certain that we understand what we need to do to help the city benefit as much as possible from the Act. The President is developing a White House Office on Urban Policy. There are funds available to support Regional Innovation Clusters. We here in Y-town must make certain that we are involved in this. There is a lot to do and we need to get a start on it now.

In addition to reading the act I have also found a website that is tracking the money from the stimulus bill. It is called Shovel Watch While checking out this website I came upon a curious fact. It appears that states that have less unemployment are getting more money than those that have much higher unemployment. If you take the stimulus money per state divided by lost jobs of those states it ends up that Wymoming and its neighbors are receiving five times more stimulus money than places like Ohio and Michigan. I'm truly at a loss as to why this is the case and what the thinking is behind the decision. Seems to me that Wyoming is Dick Cheney's state, right? Wyoming and its neighbors are some of the few states that have not been hit much by this economic meltdown. So if you know or have any ideas about why they are getting so much money please enlighten me. In the meantime I have sent my question to the White House and will await their response.

One of the things that I think is truly wonderful about the Obama administration is its commitment to accountability and transparency, The administration has set up a website where questions can be asked and comments made. You too can express your concerns about the Act at the White House website. I have already submitted my question about Wyoming. I hope to receive a response, When I do I will let you know what it is.

In addition, if you would like to make suggestions to the Middle Class Task force you can do so here.

Folks, I'm hoping this kind of transparency and accountability is for real. If it is, we are witnessing a paradigm shift in politics unlike any the world has ever seen. We are moving toward authentic participatory democracy. What is more we have the technology now to support such as shift. We can't sit back now, we must participate. There is a lot of work to be done.

One troubling footnote: It would appear that the anti-war candidate of last summer (Obama).especially in comparison to the "hawkish" Clinton, yesterday ordered an increase in airstrikes in the soverign nation of Pakistan.

1 comment:

Lou said...

re: Wyoming

As someone who grew up in Montana, I don't think it's unusual that they would get more per capita than Ohio

You're dealing with an extremely small population and an extremely large landmass, much of which is owned by the federal government. So even a little bit of Federal funds spent on programs they already fund will cause this statistic to skew that way.

Then There's politics- While I don't think Cheney played a factor in how much money Wyoming got, there has to be a reasonable expectation they'd get something. And if they did, then the above applies again.