Saturday, September 4, 2010

Pay Attention!! The Stimulus Is Changing America!

I know. The conventional wisdom is throw the bums out of Washington. And yes, it appears there will be a big swing toward the party out of power in November's off-year elections. For the record, my prediction is that Obama will be fine in 2012, as the opposition will be terribly fractured and split, having little talent to compete against a politically skilled and savvy Barack Obama. Americans will have awakened by 2012 to Obama Administration efforts which will have had very positive impact on our nation.

More has been accomplished in Barack Obama's one year in office than many previous whole administrations. From The Recovery Act (which we will discuss below) which has helped stabilize the most unprecedentedly shaky and scary economy since the Great Depression, to stabilizing the auto industry, overhauling the entire financial sector, beginning efforts to finally reform health care, and ending an unpopular war and refocusing efforts on another war front, this Presidency is already very accomplished.

The area getting least attention is the way The Recovery Act of 2009 (The Stimulus ) is changing America. For starters, the Recovery Act is the most ambitious energy legislation in history. It basically converts the Energy Dept. into the world's largest venture-capital fund. It is pouring $90. billion into clean in the energy grid, electric cars, renewable power from the sun, cleaner coal, and advanced biofuels. It is financing energy research through a new government incubator modeled after the Pentagon agency that fathered the Internet.

Additionally, there is a tenfold increase in funding to expand access to broadband. There's $8. billion for a high-speed passenger rail network, the boldest transportation initiative since the interstate highway system. There's $20. billion to move health records into the digital age.

A career bureacrat said, "there's been more reform in the last year than we've seen in decades and we've spent very little of the money at this point. It's staggering how The Recovery Act is driving change."

Times Michael Grunwald says, "the stimulus passed just a month after Obama's inauguration, but it may be his greatest signature effort to reshape America, as well as it's government." After decades of neglect, $11. billion is going into the reshaping the power grid, which could shape trillions of dollars in future utility investment according to Grunwald. Money is going to deliver high speed Internet to rural areas, as well as the for high speed rail link from Tampa to Orlando.

The Administration is financing the world's first electric car plants. It will be financing the building of sedans powered by electric batteries built at plants in Deleware and electric trucks built in Indiana. The stimulus will boost the number of U. S. battery charging stations by 3200%. The stimulus is helping scores of manufacturers of wind turbines and solar products expand. It will fund construction of the first American nuclear plants in three decades. The Recovery Act is weatherizing 250,000 homes this year alone.

The stimulus is retrofitting 4 huge federal buildings. The U. S. government is the nation's largest energy consumer. It is retrofitting factories and power plants and funneling billions into state and local energy efficiency efforts.

Conservatives are concerned with where the money will come from. We must make investment in America. The money will come from scaled down war efforts in the middle east, increasing tax rates on those earning in excess of $250,000., and improving revenues as we move out of a sluggish economy. The stimulus is changing Washington as well. Every contract and lobbying contact is scrutinized. There is a Recovery Board overseeing every dollar spent. Billions have been saved by the board as projects such as 260 skate parks, picnic tables and highway beautification have been blocked.

Polls suggest that the contents of the Recovery Act are very popular. But the idea of the stimulus remains toxic. My view is that the majority of Americans have no idea of the positive effects the stimulus is having on America. The "Right" is winning the war of communications as they distract and demagogue the issues.

People should remember that the first infusion of $800. billion into the financial sector was the result of TARP, a well-advised effort of the Bush administration. Barack Obama inherited an economy completely in the ditch. As his campaign theme will emphasize, please, let us not give the car keys back to those who drove the car into the ditch. Let's stay on track with leadership and policies which will slowly but surely return America to greatness.

(Source for some of this piece: "How the Stimulus is Changing America", Michael Grunwald, TIME).

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