truthout.org — Recessions are tricky things. There are a zillion economic-textbook reasons why they come, why they stay and why they go. The most intangible factor in the depth and duration of any recession, however, cannot be quantified or predicted: mood. If people start to feel better about how things are going, whether or not their wallets actually show it, the economy improves.
Jeffery Immelt, the CEO of General Electric, has led the outsourcing charge in the past. So commentators were shocked last month when, speaking at the Detroit Economic Club, Immelt said that the United States needs to invest in American manufacturing in order to get out of our current economic crisis. more »
From the beginning of this economic crisis, policy makers seem to have forgotten (or perhaps learned too well) a basic economic rule. It's one I used to have paraphrased in a sign on my desk in a previous job: You can have it fast, you can have it cheap, or you can have quality. Pick any two.
Put another way: You get what you pay for, and you pay for what you get. Judging from the sizes of their campaign contributions, the ever-rising cost of the bailout, and the distressing lack of accountability (so far), the financial sector knows this well. From the deregulation and lax oversight that got us here, to the trend towards returning to something like business as usual, they're getting what they paid for.
truthdig.com — Depending on which state and the sort of triggers that apply to benefits, hundreds of thousands of workers laid off early in the downturn are soon to be left without the basic sustenance of an unemployment check. Let’s stop kidding ourselves. In no contemporary economic crisis — not even those that unfolded on the Republicans’ watch — has Congress left the unemployed completely in the lurch. So some sort of spending package — call it stimulus, call it stopgap emergency aid, whatever works — is going to have to be passed.
nytimes.com — Two-thirds of the country lives in large metropolitan areas, home to the nation’s worst traffic jams and some of its oldest roads and bridges. But cities and their surrounding regions are getting far less than two-thirds of federal transportation stimulus money. According to an analysis by The New York Times of 5,274 transportation projects approved so far — the most complete look yet at how states plan to spend their stimulus money — the 100 largest metropolitan areas are getting less than half the money from the biggest pot of transportation stimulus money. In many cases, they have lost a tug of war with state lawmakers that urban advocates say could hurt the nation’s economic engines.
csmonitor.com — More than one-third of assets in the nation's seven largest rail transit agencies, including the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), are in marginal or poor condition, according to an April report by the Federal Transit Administration. These include public rail systems in New York, Chicago, Boston, New Jersey, San Francisco, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. Together, these systems account for more than 3 billion passenger trips a year. A fix for the backlog would cost $50 billion; maintaining good repair thereafter, another $5.9 billion annually. But the actual level of investment in rehabilitation, replacement, and improvement of existing transit assets in these systems was $5.4 billion in 2006, the latest year reported in the study.
reuters.com — Without more direct aid to U.S. local governments, Washington may make matters worse for cities facing falling tax revenues and increased spending needs, the nation's mayors said at their annual meeting this weekend. Mayors said they bear the tough task of cutting services and jobs vital to U.S. cities, even with help from the $787 billion in stimulus funds Congress passed in February.
openleft.com — People understand the depths of the mess George W. Bush left us with, and so perhaps they will be more patient with this charismatic young President than they were with the last one. But the similarities in circumstances between now and then are still keeping me up nights. Here's what needs to happen to avoid another 1994 for the Democrats.
usatoday.com — President Obama and congressional Democrats have defended the $787 billion stimulus package against accusations of pork-barrel spending by saying the bill did not direct money to projects requested by members of Congress. Still, that hasn't stopped lawmakers from working behind the scenes to try to influence how the money is spent, according to agency records. Dozens of members of Congress from both parties have called, written or e-mailed agencies urging them to fund projects in their districts or states. Among the projects supported by members of Congress that have been funded: $116 million for a federal courthouse in Austin; $35 million to $60 million for toxic waste cleanups in Massachusetts and Colorado; and $5 million for the removal of pine trees killed by bark beetles in Colorado, records show.