Greater City Providence

Get your stimulus on (or not)

Stimulus, Stimulus, Stimulus!!!

My email’s been jammed with all manner of Senate Stimulus information. I’ve had no time to digest it all so excuse me while I throw a few things against the wall here and allow you all to digest it yourselves:

In the Boston Globe Edward L. Glaeser suggests that infrastructure should be removed from the Stimulus package and get a bill of it’s own:

PRESIDENT OBAMA is the first urbanite in the White House since Teddy Roosevelt. He certainly knows the vital role that cities play in America. Yet despite the Chicagoan on Pennsylvania Avenue, infrastructure spending in the House stimulus bill follows a business-as-usual pattern that discriminates against density. The only way to break that pattern is to take non-repair-related infrastructure spending out of the stimulus, and craft a separate bill that looks beyond the current recession. Major infrastructure projects, especially in cities, cannot be done quickly.

Transportation For America has posted the following letter to the Senate:

Re: Preserve transit investment in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

Dear Senator,

The undersigned organizations and public officials write to urge the Senate to oppose any efforts to decrease funding for our nation’s public transportation network in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

A proposed reduction of $3.4 billion in transit funding would cut more than 100,000 jobs from the proposal. The bill currently includes $8.4 billion for pressing transit improvements which would save more than 10 million barrels of oil per year and create or preserve more than 250,000 quality jobs.

The transportation sector is responsible for a third of the nation’s global warming pollution, and two-thirds of domestic oil consumption. Public transportation saves more than 4 billion gallons of fuel each year, and produces less than a third of the pollution of comparable passenger car travel. Transit service is critical for the millions of people who depend on it to reach jobs. Transit provides a low-cost transportation option for households at all income levels, seniors and workers with limited mobility. Finally, in a national poll released earlier this month by the National Association of Realtors and Transportation For America, 80% of respondents said stimulus funds should not only create jobs, but also reduce oil dependence, increase transportation options and improve the environment.

We thank you for your leadership on this issue and urge your support for this important investment that will help build a cleaner, safer, healthier and stronger America.

Design New Haven has an excellent rundown on what’s been happening today.

Bike Portland has the scoop on Senator Jim DeMint’s (R-SC) amendment to prohibit funding for “bicycle routes” in the stimulus bill:

“When people see bike trails and hiking trails and golf courses, they know this is not designed to stimulate the economy and create jobs. It’s just basically special-interest pork barrel spending.”

Also in my mailbox (sorry I have no linkable source for this at this time):

US Senate Adopts Coburn Amendment

Earlier today, the U.S. Senate voted to accept, by a vote of 73-24, an amendment offered by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) which states, “None of the amounts appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be used for any casino or other gambling establishment, aquarium, zoo, golf course, swimming pool, stadium, community park, museum, theater, art center, and highway beautification project.”

This amendment prohibits any federal stimulus spending on museums, theatres, and art centers. The Senate is expected to pass the final Senate version of the stimulus package later tonight. A House-Senate conference committee will iron out the discrepancies between the two versions of the stimulus bill next.

Looks like no polar bear exhibit for Providence.

Ok, I’m confused, exhausted, and my head hurts. I’m going to go find some beer. Drinking beer stimulates the economy doesn’t it?

Edited to add:

The President speaking about the economy and the stimulus package yesterday:

Jef Nickerson

Jef is Greater City Providence's co-founder, editor, and publisher. He grew up on Cape Cod and lived in Boston; Portland, Maine; and New York before settling in Providence. In addition to urbanism, Jef is interested in art, design, and ice cream. Please feel free to contact Jef if you have any question or comments about Greater City Providence.


  • Just for the record, the statement about being able to save ‘ten million barrels of oil’ sounds great, but that’s what we -import- in a single day, so we’d be saving about -one quarter of one percent- of our imported petroleum per year.

    As for how this stimulus is being spent. Here’s a thought experiment I just worked out with my calculator:

    900 Billion dollars is enough to build 2.25 million $400,000 wind turbines (those are the big ones). Each one can produce 500KW of juice; That’s 1.125 terawatts. That’s also enough to power 750 million homes. This country only has 115 million homes.

    So for one quarter or so of the cost of this stimulus plan, we could have total electricity energy independence, with room to spare for adding on electric cars and heating homes with our new ‘clean’ electricity source.

    I understand that this is a pipe-dream, and that there are a lot of other factors to consider (like where to put 2 million wind turbines), but it does make you wonder about how ‘smart’ it is to spend $6000 per taxpayer on paving roads and building bridges when we could be dong something truly awe-inspiring.

  • Marc, what you suggest is exactly what editorialist Thomas Friedman has been wanting for, oh, about the last 5 or 10 years, although his argument hasn’t been as direct as yours. Well done…

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