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Friday, January 30, 2009

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Thursday, January 29, 2009


Only 5 percent of $819b plan would go toward infrastructure

Critics say transportation is shortchanged

By Michael Kranish Globe Staff / January 29, 2009

WASHINGTON - Five weeks before becoming president, Barack Obama urged passage of a massive economic stimulus package, vowing that it would "create millions of jobs by making the single largest new investment in our national infrastructure since the creation of the federal highway system in the 1950s."

But the bill passed by the House yesterday dedicates only about 5 percent of the $819 billion measure to highway, mass transit, and rail projects, analysts said. That has prompted even some Democratic supporters to complain that the transportation spending was gutted by Republicans who insisted on more tax cuts - none of whom voted for the measure anyway - and by Obama advisers who shifted priorities to advance policy goals.

Many economists have argued in recent weeks that spending on infrastructure would do more to quickly create jobs and pull the country out of recession than tax cuts for individuals and businesses, or investments in healthcare and alternative energy - such as grants for health information technology and for a smart electricity grid. The tax cuts and investments are now sizable elements of the recovery package, with Obama's assent.

Representative Michael Capuano, a Somerville Democrat on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, said he has watched with frustration as spending for rapid transit and rail dropped during negotiations over the bill. For example, after an initial burst of enthusiasm for inter-city rail projects, the amount was reduced to $5 billion and then to $1.1 billion, he said.

The bill has $30 billion for roads and bridges and $12 billion for rapid transit, with decisions on specific projects to be made by state and local officials. But that's far less than originally sought by some Democrats, and could make it more difficult to fund some Massachusetts projects, such as work on roads, bridges, and the MBTA system, or a proposed extension of the commuter rail line from Lowell to Manchester, N.H.

"Priorities changed," Capuano said. "Someone says, 'How about food stamps, how about early childhood education?' "

Nonetheless, Representative Edward J. Markey, a Malden Democrat, praised the bill last night and said it would provide more than $6 billion for Massachusetts and could save or create thousands of jobs.

Capuano said he still supported the bill because it provides much-needed money for an array of interests, but said he would have preferred some of the tax cuts were replaced by transportation spending. He compared $1.1 billion for rail projects with $145 billion to provide $500-per-taxpayer rebates. "I know it is politically popular, but I don't think it will stimulate the economy," Capuano said of the tax relief.

The chairman of the transportation panel's subcommittee on highways and transit, Peter DeFazio of Oregon, became so angry about the reduction in transportation spending that he recently accused Obama's top economic adviser, Lawrence Summers, of arguing against such funds because he "hates infrastructure."

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki responded yesterday, "Before he joined the administration and since, Larry Summers has consistently supported infrastructure funding as a means of stimulus." Psaki said that the stimulus bill has "a significant investment in infrastructure" and will be followed by other legislation, adding, "The goal has never been to accomplish every legislative goal in one fell swoop."

But in a sign of dissatisfaction among members of both parties with the amount of transportation spending, an amendment to increase the total from $9 billion to $12 billion passed by a voice vote yesterday.

The bill is expected to be reshaped further in the Senate in coming days, but it is not yet clear whether the transportation funding will grow.

Senator John F. Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat who has been pushing for a $25 billion national high-speed rail network, said yesterday that he hopes the stimulus bill will provide an opportunity to get the plan underway. So far, Kerry said, he and other supporters have secured $2 billion for high-speed rail in the Senate bill, but he said "we have to do much more."

The American Society of Civil Engineers said in a report released yesterday - ahead of schedule to try to influence the stimulus debate - that the nation's infrastructure is so degraded that it gets a grade of "D." The report urged $2.2 trillion in spending, not including money for high-speed rail, which Obama and his vice president, Joe Biden, have said is a priority.

"Our greatest concern is that Congress is going to pass the stimulus and think that they have checked the box on infrastructure, when in reality there is much more to be done," said Janet Kavinoky, director of transportation infrastructure for the US Chamber of Commerce.

Shortly before Obama outlined his stimulus plans in a Dec. 6 radio address, the nation's governors told him that they had about $150 billion in transportation projects ready to build. It was estimated that each $1 billion of spending would produce 40,000 jobs. John Krieger, the federal transportation policy analyst at the US Public Interest Research Group, said that while his groups supports the bill, Obama initially left the impression that it would have such a massive component of urban transit and high-speed rail that it would lead to a "generational change" in transportation comparable to that of the interstate system of 1950s.

An analysis of the stimulus bill by Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody's Economy.com, says most of the infrastructure spending will not occur until 2010, while some tax cuts might have more immediate impact.

That study, however, also found that a cut in corporate taxes would have an impact of 30 cents for every reduction of $1 in the coming year, while infrastructure spending would result in a payback of $1.59 for every $1 spent. The biggest impact could come from items that had been inserted into the bill with relatively little fanfare but which could be quickly enacted. The extension of unemployment benefits would have a payback of $1.63 per $1 spent, and an increase in food stamps would pay back $1.73.

Mchael Kranish can be reached at kranish@globe.com.

READER COMMENTS (14) Post a comment
Retirement accounts are evaporating, jobs are disappearing by the 10's of thousands every week, government is not addressing true fixes and is continuing it's huge spending and government growth pattern. The American population is sinking into a financial hole so deep we will never be able to get out of it.

Yet we, the people, have been so programmed into a democrat vs republican mentality, we don't see the apparent damage being done every day right before our eyes. Totally incompetent leaders in Washington, I predict, will be the cause of a backlash by the people one day that none of us are going to like. How is it America became so great over the past 200 years and now our country is being high jacked by a group of left wing socialists. If they prevail America is finished.

by BobRet January 29, 3:18 PM
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$119 billion classified for "other". The third biggest category and they can't even define it. Sounds like alot of pork to me.
by juerls January 29, 2:10 PM
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RedisRight-1...you are right, spending on infrastructure does not provide a lifelong job to every worker. NOR IS IT MEANT TO. The idea is to provide jobs now, short term, for the growing segment of the population who have lost their jobs and cannot find a new one. Ideally, once we get out of the depression, those workers can then find a new job, hopefully in their original area of expertise. A tax cut is not super helpful if you have no job and therefore have no income for an extended period of time.
by mixie104 January 29, 12:57 PM
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Stowe, are you that stupid? Read your history, what incentive does it give people to work if they're given credits? In 2005, a $286.4 BILLION dollar infrastructure bill was passed, jobs are created and then end because the work is completed. Tax cuts give people more of their money in their pocket, allows businesses to keep more of their money to hire more people, reinvest capital, etc. Get a clue before you spew nonsense about hope because Obama is representative of the new DC, same as the old DC.
by RedisRight-1 January 29, 12:48 PM
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Bye Bye Blago!

Finally, something is done right! Well, kinda! That seems to be all we can hope for these days...is things done "kinda" right. Yes, Blago was impeached....BUT if the investigation had been allowed to go on longer...I think it would have led to even more corruption and probably found its way back to Obama. Of course that would never be allowed to happen. However, I would bet money that if it had been a Republican situation...it would have been plastered everywhere and there would be more than one person going down.

Blago is gone. Good. One less currupt person in a high office. The thing I am worried about is the person in the HIGHEST office who wasn't ever in a "high office" before he was elected to run the country. My fear is that he is going to run the country into the ground.

Reasons the "Stimulus" should never pass

These are just a few of the reasons that the "stimulus" should never be passed:

*Massive stimulus didn't work in the Great Depression. As this Heritage Foundation study notes: "After the stock market collapse in 1929, the Hoover Administration increased federal spending by 47 percent over the following three years. As a result, federal spending increased from 3.4 percent of GDP in 1930 to 6.9 percent in 1932 and reached 9.8 percent by 1940. That same year-- 10 years into the Great Depression--America's unemployment rate stood at 14.6 percent." Same goes for Japan and its Great Stagnation of the 1990s.

*Alberto Alesina of Harvard and Luigi Zingales of the University of Chicago want to adress the fear and confidence issue by creating "the incentive for people to take more risk and move their savings from government bonds to risky assets. There is no better way to encourage this than a temporary elimination of the capital-gains tax for all the investments begun during 2009 and held for at least two years."

*University of Chicago economist and Nobel laureate Gary Becker doubts whether all this stimulus spending will do much to lower unemployment: "For one thing, the true value of these government programs may be limited because they will be put together hastily, and are likely to contain a lot of political pork and other inefficiencies. For another thing, with unemployment at 7% to 8% of the labor force, it is impossible to target effective spending programs that primarily utilize unemployed workers, or underemployed capital. Spending on infrastructure, and especially on health, energy, and education, will mainly attract employed persons from other activities to the activities stimulated by the government spending. The net job creation from these and related spending is likely to be rather small. In addition, if the private activities crowded out are more valuable than the activities hastily stimulated by this plan, the value of the increase in employment and GDP could be very small, even negative."

Source: http://www.usnews.com/blogs/capital-commerce/2009/1/27/10-reasons-to-nix-the-stimulus-plan.html

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

This gave me a little laugh...

Ive seen this on the news once!

I am so sick of the media playing games with us. Good reporters are few and far between now. Especially the news shows now...it's all about ratings and pleasing the viewers! I don't want to be spoon fed the news or brainwashed by them choosing what I get to see! That is sadly what a lot of people settle for...the easy way.

When Bush overturned Clintons abortion policy it was all over the news. Where are all those "reporters" when Obama is doing the same to Bush?

"WASHINGTON (AFP) – President Barack Obama overturned what he described as an "unwarranted" eight-year ban on US government funding for family-planning groups which carry out or facilitate abortions overseas."

Can someone tell me ....WHY in the world are we paying for it OVERSEAS? I wouldn't want to pay for it in my own country but especially not someone elses! And yes I said "I" wouldn't want to pay for it because whether you realize it or not these "government funded programs" are taking money right out of your pockets! This is the "cut back in spending" Obama promised? That makes no sense! Can anyone explain that to me?

"Anti-abortion groups were up in arms and vowed to fight the move.

"We were prepared for this and we will work very hard in Congress to see what we can do to get this overturned," Judie Brown, president of the American Life League, told AFP.

"I think it's a horrible tactic to take toward third world countries if the best we can do for them is provide organizations with the money needed to perform abortions on their children," she said.

Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council, said lifting the gag rule was tantamount to "exporting a culture of death," and House Republican Whip Eric Cantor said he was "saddened by this decision and the lives that will be lost because of it." - www.rawstory.com

I am hopeful that Obama will wake up and realize that his plans and what he wants to do to this country will lead to nothing but a huge mess. But you won't hear about it on the news...so don't worry....they can't afford to let him look bad. They have another term to think about. And of course anything your kids read about him in school will be about how great he is/was as a president....think about it tho....WHO runs the school system? Do some research. Why do you think there is so much talk about revamping schools and changing curriculum? They do it all the time and all it has led to is the "dumbing down of our country" and the children are the ones that pay for it in the end. Parents need to get more involved in not only their kids schooling but also in politics! I know it sounds so hard and so time consuming and you might even get into a debate or two....GOOD! Get off your butt and do something about the way our country is behaving. I am sick of it....and you should be too!