On the eve of the first anniversary of the adoption of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, North Hempstead’s Town Council approved a resolution creating a Recovery Zone within the Town.
This is intended to make the town eligible for a piece of that $787 billion which was authorized exactly a year ago.
In fact, the town is authorized for up to $20 million in bond authorization.
The fact that this is taking place a year after the Recovery Act was passed may well be why there are many people standing around saying that they do not personally see evidence that the stimulus is working.
Sometimes it’s hard to prove a negative. What didn’t happen.
The fact of the matter is that one third has gone to tax cuts that were enjoyed by 95 percent of Americans, small businesses, first-time homebuyers, for child-care, for 8 million Americans paying for college – a total of $120 billion in tax relief.
One third has gone to that social net intended to keep people from falling into the abyss of bankruptcy and foreclosure because of joblessness, including aid to states and localities.
As President Obama stated on the anniversary of the Recovery Act, “We’ve extended or increased unemployment benefits for more than 19 million Americans. We made health insurance 65 percent cheaper for families who lost their jobs and had to get temporary coverage through COBRA. And we gave relief to states that were struggling to balance their budgets -– relief that has allowed 300,000 teachers and education workers to keep their jobs, as well as tens of thousands of cops and firefighters and first responders and correctional officers.”
As a result, you do not see the bread lines, the Hoovervilles, the apple-sellers of the Great Depression.
The economy was, in fact, saved: in one year, the economy has gone from a 6 percent drop to 6% growth – that’s a 12 point swing in fortunes.
Jobs were being lost in ever increasing numbers, from January 2008 to the point where nearly 800,000 jobs were lost in December 2008, were lost in fewer and fewer numbers throughout 2009. Indeed, November, 2009 marked the first time jobs were actually added to the economy since December 2007.
The stimulus that went to states, including New York State, enabled localities to retain teachers, police officers and firefighters. Had they not, communities would have suffered a deterioration and more people would have been added to the jobless rolls, more homes would have been foreclosed, and we would have squandered more of our most precious resource, our human resource.
In all, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates as many as 2.4 million jobs were saved or created because of the Stimulus – 160,000 of them in New York State. That’s 160,000 people who are paying taxes rather than taking aid.
Not all of those were teachers, police and firefighters. Many jobs have in fact been created because of the last third of Obama’s Recovery and Reinvestment Act: the reinvestment in America’s infrastructure.
So far that has included more than 12,500 transportation construction projects – ranging from highway construction to airport improvement projects, of which more than 8,500 are already underway across the country with more breaking ground as the weather warms up; over 2,850 Department of Defense construction and rehabilitation projects have been started at over 350 military facilities nationwide; 51 Superfund project sites from the National Priority List have been funded, of which 34 already have on-site construction; over 300 improvement projects underway or completed at 175 National Parks nationwide.
Also, 1,100 health center grant recipients operate more than 7,500 community-based clinics nationwide have received nearly $1.9 billion in Health Resources and Services Administration Recovery Act awards to build or improve facilities and expand services; over 3,100 public housing authorities have been awarded Recovery Act funding totaling nearly $4 billion, helping to create jobs, retrofit housing, and support construction projects to improve public housing across the country.
Over $70 billion in Build America Bonds have been issued in 47 states since April 2009 to fund a wide array of critical infrastructure projects, many of which may have been stalled or unfunded construction projects. Build America Bonds attract a wider array of investors and provide a more attractive financing option for States and localities, and they now represent about 19 percent of municipal bond debt issued since the popular program began.
This does not just mean rebuilding bridges, which are badly in need of rebuilding, especially after three decades of politicians looking to score points by withholding funding for such projects.
It means literally rebuilding the structure of our economy. this is the part that has yet to be apparent, even though billions have already been committed to projects, with billions more as yet unallocated.
In the arena of Technology/Innovation, $2.4 billion in grants have been awarded to companies and educational institutions in over 20 states to fund 48 new advanced battery and electric drive projects that will help power the next generation of advanced vehicles.
President Obama noted that as a result of these investments, the U.S., which has accounted for a mere 2% of the world’s output of advanced battery manufacturing, 98% of it was being done in Asian countries.
“Then we invested in new research and battery technologies, and supported the construction of 20 battery factories that will employ tens of thousands of Americans -– batteries that can make enough — factories that can make enough batteries each year to power half a million plug-in hybrid vehicles. So as a result, next year — next year, two years after the Recovery Act — the United States will have the capacity to produce nearly 20 percent of the world’s advanced batteries — from less than 2 percent to 20 percent. And we’ll be able to make 40 percent of these advanced batteries by 2015 — an entire new industry because of the Recovery Act.”
America has been held back significantly in terms of its goal for energy independence by the lack of a Smart energy Grid – that is a grid that will make it possible to capture the energy from wind power in the Midwest and deliver it to another region. Some $3.4 billion in grants have been awarded to private companies, utilities, manufacturers and cities to fund smart energy grid projects that will support tens of thousands of jobs and benefit consumers in 49 states.
The saying went, ‘How goes General Motors, so goes America.” Well General Motors went bankrupt. The Recovery Act awarded $300 million in grants have been awarded to 25 cost-share projects under DOE’s Clean Cities program to expand the nation’s fleet of alternative fuel vehicles by putting more than 9,000 alternative fuel and energy efficient vehicles on the road.
More than $5 billion in awards have been made through 12,000 grants to research and educational institutions to fund cutting edge medical research in every state.
The first of over $7 billion in awards to bring broadband to communities where there is little or no access have been made – a significant step forward in driving local economic development.
America’s transportation system is woefully archaic. Projects in 31 states to help lay a foundation for a high speed rail network here in the U.S. – including down-payments on 13 new, large-scale high-speed rail corridors across the country. This $8 billion investment will not only create jobs and drive economic growth, but jump-start a critical element of 21st century infrastructure.
Over $750 million in awards have been made to state and local governments and community organizations to help prepare for widespread, meaningful use of health information technology, which is regarded as a key tool to bring down spiraling health care costs. The awards will help make health IT available to over 100,000 hospitals and primary care physicians by 2014 and grow an emerging industry expected to support tens of thousands of jobs.
Of the $226 billion allocated for projects, the third component of the stimulus, $143 billion has been awarded, leaving $83 billion still to be allocated. (To see for yourself, go to www.whitehouse.gov/recovery.map, and to see where Stimulus dollars have been spent, go to www.recovery.gov).
And now, some of that funding will be coming to our Town. The Town Council’s designation of commercial and industrial parts of the unincorporated areas of the Town makes North Hempstead eligible to tap into $20 million in bonding authorization.
The Town hopes to target projects – including private development – in commercial and industrial areas, with $12 million going to private development and $8 million to help fund public projects.
Supervisor Kaiman said that the Town would soon publicize the rules for eligibility.
Karen Rubin, LI Populist Examiner