Monday, February 16, 2009

Spending for a Better Tomorrow

Just how good is Harper's recovery/stimulus plan? There's one way to measure our Furious Leader's proposals. It's Obama's Recovery and Reinvestment Act that's due to be signed into law tomorrow.

Here's a peek courtesy of the Center for American Progress:

Unprecedented investments in clean energy are a central element of the recovery plan. The bill includes $71 billion for clean energy programs—more than three times the current spending for these same programs (download the breakdown here (.xls)). H.R. 1 also adds $20 billion in clean energy tax incentives. The bill would “spark the creation of a clean-energy economy” that President Barack Obama promised during his inaugural address.

The Recovery Act intends to quickly put Americans to work undertaking the essential task of reducing our use of energy and oil, which would strengthen our economy and security. It would also boost investments in clean renewable energy generation from the wind, sun, and other clean sources.

The World Resources Institute determined that there is a significant job creation differential between traditional infrastructure investments and those focusing on clean energy initiatives. Every investment of $1 billion in clean energy programs creates nearly 5,000 more jobs than traditional infrastructure spending. These are some of the most important initiatives in the recovery package.

Under the recovery plan, the Weatherization Assistance Program would receive an additional $5 billion to install efficiency measures in low-income households. This
amount could weatherize 1 million homes, and, directly and indirectly, create 375,000 jobs. Low-income families will save an average of $350 annually in reduced energy costs. .

Another clean energy program, the federal green buildings program, would receive $4.5 billion in funding from the plan. Modernization and energy efficiency upgrades of federal buildings would put people to work and save taxpayers millions of dollars a year in federal energy bills.

President Obama recently noted that efficiency for federal buildings could save taxpayers “$2 billion,” asking, “Why wouldn't we want to make that kind of investment?”

Energy efficiency and conservation grants for energy efficiency in residential and commercial buildings would gain $6.3 billion. This is in addition to a new program with the Department of Housing and Urban Development for energy efficiency retrofits of low-income housing that would receive $250 million. This funding would directly and indirectly generate over 1 million jobs, and many would be construction jobs—a sector hard hit by the recession.

The bill supplies $8.4 billion for transit projects, and an additional $8 billion for high-speed rail. There are an estimated 787 ready-to-go transit projects eligible for funds from the programs to purchase buses and equipment needed to increase public transportation and improve intermodal and transit facilities. These would also put Americans back to work to the tune of nearly 20,000 jobs for every $1 billion invested in mass transit.

There is also $20 billion in clean energy tax incentives, including a three-year extension of the Production Tax Credit for wind and other renewable energy projects. Due to the credit crunch and recession, many wind projects have had difficulty attracting investors. To address this problem, the bill “provides grants of up to 30 percent of the cost of building a new renewable energy facility to address current renewable energy credit market concerns.”

So that gives you an idea of the direction in which Obama wants to steer his nation. How does Steve Harper's bold vision stack up to Obama's?

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