Posts Tagged ‘federal stimulus’

Feingold votes against more stimulus

December 14, 2009

Russ Feingold was one of three Senate Democrats to vote against another round of stimulus supported by the Obama administration.

Feingold’s U.S. senate colegue, Democrat Herb Kohl voted yes, and he then announced almost $15-million dollars in projects and new federal aid for the Badger State – plus another 11-million for national autism education projects. Kohl’s Wisconsin earmarks included transit upgrades, new health projects in La Crosse and Eau Claire, and military construction projects at Fort McCoy and Milwaukee’s Mitchell Airport.

Feelings? I don’t know how I feel myself, but I would like you to forgive me for diverting attention from this issue to another one – health care – to show that fiscal hawks like Feingold support the public option because it saves money, not simply because it’s more generous and more fair (which it is).

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Stimulus numbers wrong

November 12, 2009

Thank you to Emma Roller (a cherished commenter) for directing me to this story:

“A stimulus job report that says more than 10,000 jobs were saved or created in Wisconsin is rife with errors, double counting and inflated numbers based more on satisfying federal formulas than creating real jobs, a Journal Sentinel review has found.

In one case, five jobs were mistakenly listed as 50 – and then counted twice. In another, pay raises to workers were listed as saving more than 100 jobs. And in another, jobs were listed as saved even though the money had not been received and no work on the project had begun.”

So Wisconsin is still in the shitter. The Herald’s got more on that.

Not enough money for homelessness

October 13, 2009

Of the nearly $200 million Dane County received in the federal stimulus plan, $574,000 was allocated for “Homelessness Prevention.”

Considering that the city of Madison currently turns down nearly half of those seeking shelter, it is good to see that there is some recognition of the poorest people during the recession, however, the number is still pitifully low. Compare that to the $40 million for airport improvements.

In addition, homelessness prevention should be coupled with additional shelter units for the thousands of people who are already destitute.

School funding in Wisconsin

September 27, 2009

A subject that I’ve almost entirely avoided due to a limited interest and an even more limited base of knowledge, school funding is nevertheless one of the most pressing issues facing the state. While I haven’t done the necessary research to go in-depth on different funding formulas, I think a simple look at the stimulus money requested for Dane County schools for the “State Fiscal Stabilization Fund” shows at least one of the following:

a) That public education is widely underfunded, b) that, as the critics claimed, much of the “stimulus” money served to finance long-term goals or c) that Wisconsin’s congressional delegation recognized the opportunity that the stimulus plan presented and got massive funding for state public schools.

Every school district in Dane County got tons of cash. Oregon got $2.4 million. Verona got 2.5. Sun Prairie got $3.3 million.

It goes on and on.

Feingold: Not another stimulus package

September 8, 2009

What distinguished Feingold from most Congressional Democrats is not always his positions, but the way in which he expresses them: bluntly.

“This was done because we had an emergency,” Feingold told a WisPolitics luncheon this week. “I don’t like things that aren’t paid for. … We can’t just keep doing this.”

Feingold said the first stimulus bill could have been better — he remarked that small business and higher education should have been more of a priority — but said that, on the whole, it was necessary and has been effective.

As a history major, it is practically required of me to draw a parallel to past political figures. In this case I would point to Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was actually a relatively reluctant convert to the aggressive Keynsian economics which defined his administration. In fact, many Keynsian advocates, such as Paul Krugman, claim that Roosevelt should have gone farther, but that he, adhering to anti-deficit doctrine, got cold feet and slowed spending after the initial New Deal programs seemed to produce beneficial effects in the economy.

Maybe we ought to just get used to a 10 percent unemployment rate. It’s what France did.

Bobby Jindal for WI governor

July 30, 2009

If there’s one paradox in Wisconsin, it is that a moderate state is utterly lacking moderate Republicans. On the national level Rep. Petrie is a relic of the days when the GOP was a party that included reasonable people. However, on the state level the Republican Party is the party of Bush, the party of McCarthy, the party of Walker.

Scott Walker seems determined to prove that Wisconsin belongs in the South. Not only is he a social conservative of the Bible-belt brand, but he’s joined Bobby Jindal, Mark Sanford and all the other clowns in opposing stimulus money for Wisconsin. Of course, like all Republicans who tried to score points on that issue, he eventually had to back off. Cory Liebman, from Eye on Wisconsin, has listed all the cities and towns Walker is speaking in, as well as how much federal stimulus money each place got.

Who can forget the beginning of the year, when Scott Walker first refused federal stimulus money for Milwaukee County? He was rightfully panned from all sides, even from some of his most adoring fans in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and in the Milwaukee business community. Eventually he created confusing and ever evolving criteria so that he could give any answer that a potential voter would want to hear on the subject.

This weekend the local media should force Scott Walker to fully explain himself. He should be forced to tell them exactly why their communities should send back their share of the federal stimulus money. Such a blatant act of journalism could actually start an interesting trend. A trend that could start what I would like to call the “Walker Anti-Stimulus Tour”.

Madison poor getting left out of stimulus

July 17, 2009

Of all the grandstanding we hear from politicians about rescuing homeowners, including proposals from Rep. Paul Ryan to insure all mortgage holders, the nation seems to have forgotten the people who are not only too poor to own homes, but are often too poor to pay rent.

The impact can be seen in right here in Madison, where the city is being forced to dip into reserve funds to help low-income tenants because the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development has cut funding for low-income housing assistance.

Because money from the feds has gone down, the city’s Community Development Authority was planning on simply reducing subsidies to tenants, which would have caused rent hikes for many residents. However, Ald. Michael Schumacher apparently found the idea unacceptable, and has now proposed an ordinance to allow the city to temporarily use money from the “Affordable Housing Trust Fund” to help low-income tenants through September. Ordinarily, the fund is meant to create more low-income housing, not to help pay the rent of already-existing units. However, desperate times call for desperate measures.

Schumacher calls it “appalling” that the federal government has cut the budget for affordable housing amid one of the largest spending sprees in history.

The greatest irony in this story is that the city has to get permission from the federal government if it wishes to cut some tenants off the rolls of subsidized housing, even though the feds are actually the source of the funding dilemma. Before Schumacher’s ordinance, the city was thinking of creating stricter standards for eligibility to make up for the lack of federal dollars. Currently low-income tenants living in housing worth up to 110% of the market average are eligible for rent assistance. The city was considering reducing the bar to 90%. Hopefully this new proposal will make that unnecessary.

Nevertheless, the problem illustrates how the federal government is as detached from the problems of the nation’s poor as it is during times of prosperity. The stimulus includes many of worthwhile investments in the future, including money for infrastructure development, as discussed in the post below. Increased spending on food stamps and unemployment payments have also accomplished the fundamental task of putting money into the pockets of people who will immediately put it back into the economy. Advocates like Russ Feingold have been behind these efforts and have tried to remind Washington that the first to get hit by this crisis are the country’s poor.

Low-income housing is more important than most people seem to realize. When people cannot afford housing where they work – where do they turn? Brenda Konkel has more.

Conductor Doyle, Madison the next stop on your train?

July 17, 2009

First off, trains are not toys. And people who put on the conductor’s hats and play with model train sets are not dorks – they are the way out of this recession. Anyway:

Gov. Jim Doyle seems to making good on a pledge to develop mass transit in Wisconsin.

The state is buying two high-speed trains that will operate along the Milwaukee-Chicago corridor and be assembled in Wisconsin, Gov. Jim Doyle announced today.

Doyle said the state will make the $48 million purchase from a Spanish train company, and two additional trains could be bought if the state is awarded federal stimulus money for that purpose.

Doyle said the purchase represents a commitment to high-speed rail that no other state is making.

Kristin Czubkowski wonders aloud whether buying the trains makes it more likely for stimulus dollars to come. I would say yes. Not only will setting up the system make the case to the feds more convincing, but as the article points out, states generally share costs for passenger rail with the federal government. The good news is that $8 billion has already been set aside by D.C. for high speed rail. Frankly, more of the stimulus should have been targeting such meaningful development.

If this money proves to be available imagine the things Wisconsin could do with mass transit. A rail link to Milwaukee from Madison? Another one up to the Twin Cities? I think Green Bay would be a bit of a stretch, however, it would be the reality today if we had only begun this worthy investment decades ago.