An article in the latest issue of Time Magazine, “How the Stimulus Is Changing America”, caught my eye while I was at the gym this morning. As I read it, I kept thinking, “wow, this isn’t what you read or hear in the media 99% of the time.” We’re also not hearing it enough from Democrats, who should be proud of this tremendous accomplishment.
…the stimulus has cut taxes for 95% of working Americans, bailed out every state, hustled record amounts of unemployment benefits and other aid to struggling families and funded more than 100,000 projects to upgrade roads, subways, schools, airports, military bases and much more. But in the words of Vice President Joe Biden, Obama’s effusive Recovery Act point man, “Now the fun stuff starts!” The “fun stuff,” about one-sixth of the total cost, is an all-out effort to exploit the crisis to make green energy, green building and green transportation real; launch green manufacturing industries; computerize a pen-and-paper health system; promote data-driven school reforms; and ramp up the research of the future. “This is a chance to do something big, man!” Biden said during a 90-minute interview with TIME.
The stimulus is also stocked with nonenergy game changers, like a tenfold increase in funding to expand access to broadband and an effort to sequence more than 2,300 complete human genomes – when only 34 were sequenced with all previous aid. There’s $8 billion for a high-speed passenger rail network, the boldest federal transportation initiative since the interstate highways. There’s $4.35 billion in Race to the Top grants to promote accountability in public schools, perhaps the most significant federal education initiative ever – it’s already prompted 35 states and the District of Columbia to adopt reforms to qualify for the cash. There’s $20 billion to move health records into the digital age, which should reduce redundant tests, dangerous drug interactions and errors caused by doctors with chicken-scratch handwriting. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius calls that initiative the foundation for Obama’s health care reform and “maybe the single biggest component in improving quality and lowering costs.“
As the Time Magazine article points out, “Any of those programs would have been a revolution in its own right.” So why aren’t Democrats touting this – along with the fact that 95% of working Americans got a tax cut – from the rooftops? Why isn’t the media reporting it? Why are Democrats allowing Republicans to lie and demagogue about all this “spending” (in quotes because it’s really tax cuts and crucial/badly needed investment, for the most part), while of course not mentioning the exciting investments in our nation’s future, the tax cuts to 95% of their constituents, or the billions of dollars in aid to their states, which would be laying off public safety employees, teachers, etc. in droves, if not for federal government assistance like this? I don’t know exactly why the messaging war has been so badly waged on this one, but it’s long past time for Democratic candidates to start channeling a bit o’ Biden and his “something big!” enthusiasm.