WASHINGTON, DC — Green Party leaders said today that the $789 billion compromise stimulus bill falls drastically short of providing what’s needed to end the deepening recession, and urged the Obama Administration to renegotiate the bill to restore and expand funding to create jobs and to provide a real safety net for every American.
“The US economy needs a stimulus, but the bipartisan bill, as it stands now, fails to address the biggest emergencies — lost jobs and home foreclosures,” said Holly Hart, secretary of the Green Party of the United States. “If the bill has little effect, it means that America will plunge even deeper into recession, with even more jobs down the drain.”
“Public works projects, dismissed by many Congress members as pork, would create jobs and get America working again. Tax breaks for the wealthy, Democratic leaders’ biggest concession to Republicans stuck in a Herbert Hoover mentality, will stimulate the economy only minimally,” added Ms. Hart.
Greens said that bipartisan compromises reduced or eliminated funding for school construction, urgent relief for states (necessary to provide Medicaid and other essential services), health care for the unemployed, extended unemployment, Head Start, food stamps, public transit, retrofitting housing, greening federal buildings, watershed rehabilitation, and fire departments — all of which would create and protect jobs, benefit millions of Americans, and help restore financial stability. The removal of caps on executive pay further limits the bill’s effectiveness as a stimulus.
“Democrats caved in to the highway construction lobby when they diverted funding that should have been used for public transportation, thus sacrificing one of the most valuable items of the Obama agenda. With the world facing potentially catastrophic climate change in the coming decades, we don’t need more highways, we need more public transportation and less car traffic. We need to convert our economy from an auto economy to a green economy. Over $25 billion in vital green programs, which would have created countless new jobs, was cut from the stimulus under the compromise,” said Fred Vitale, Michigan candidate for state representative and state chairperson of the Green Party of Michigan.
Greens called the bill a missed opportunity for the kind of investments needed to make the US a truly green economy, moving the US away from dependence on foreign oil and other carbon fuels within the next ten years, as former Vice President Al Gore has recommended. Party leaders cited an ABC News report on new jobs created by the rise of wind farms in the Midwest (http://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=6823005&page=1). Greens expressed relief that pressure from environmentalists killed a $50 billion loan guarantee for nuclear plants, a major victory for safe and clean energy.
The Green Party has also recommended enactment of a Single-Payer national health care program to relieve the costly burden on business of providing health benefits to employees (http://www.gp.org/press/pr-national.php?ID=158).
See also “Greens offer six big steps for economic recovery”, Green Party press release, December 10, 2008 (http://www.gp.org/press/pr-national.php?ID=152). In September, 2008 Green presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney published a ten-point list of solutions in response to the Wall Street meltdown, titled “Seize the Time” (http://votetruth08.com/index.php/learn/mckinney-messages).
“The stimulus bill demonstrates how ‘bipartisan’ means the damage caused by two-party politics, and how ‘moderate’ means too beholden to corporate demands to effect real change,” said Mark Dunlea, former chair of the Green Party of New York State. “It’s the Rahm Emanuel ideology — the chief function of Democrats is to capitulate to Republicans and corporate campaign contributors.” (Mr. Emanuel, the White House Chief of Staff, has led negotiations on the stimulus bill.)
“If bailout and stimulus money went directly to threatened homeowners, both homeowners and the banks would benefit,” said Mr. Dunlea. “The result of the stimulus will probably be all too similar to last year’s taxpayer-funded $700 billion bailout for the financial industry, which passed with support from both Obama and McCain, with no conditions on how the money was spent. It’ll mostly wind up in the bank accounts of a few wealthy people while doing little to jumpstart the economy, create or save jobs, or provide financial security for working Americans.”