Jim Bunning continues his personal obstructionism in the Senate, blocking important appointments. I can see the GOP ads coming in 2012 already: President Obama was ineffective in leading the nation because this agency or that entity didn’t govern. What they’ll neglect to tell you is that this is because of their obstructionism. Dozens of important appointments have been held up by Republicans. The head of the TSA and many others. Here is Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (RI) speaking about Bunning and the issue of exports:
Exports and trade mean jobs for Americans. We must find new markets and expand old ones to maintain momentum in turning around our economy and create jobs for Americans. I always considered the Republican Party to be the party of business but, more and more, they are only the party of big business. Statistics show businesses actually fare better under Democratic Administrations. For example just in this century the stock market was flat under George W. Bush before collapsing as trillions of dollars in wealth disappeared due to failed economic policies. Seven million Americans lost their homes and eight million lost their jobs. Under Barack Obama the economy is back from the brink and growing once more. We must have fair trade to protect our businesses, our workers, our economy and our environment. Free trade is not fair trade. Sen, Klobuchar (MI):
In times of severe economic recession businesses find it very difficult to create jobs. In this climate where banks aren’t lending it is incumbent upon the government to be the catalyst for job creation. It is a myth that government cannot create jobs. That is one of the GOP’s great lies. Funding infrastructure projects keeps businesses in business and keeps and saves millions of good jobs. That is reality and no amount of obfuscation erases that reality.
Sen. Bob Menendez (NJ):
On our state level economic development continues though scaled back from previous years. In a new study the Keystone Research Center calls for more transparency and accountability in this critical area:
The report found that the level of transparency in economic development programs is better in Pennsylvania than in most states. Still, it is not strong enough to answer such basic questions as do companies receiving subsidies actually create jobs, where do the subsidies go, what industries are subsidized, and what kind of wages do subsidized jobs pay?
The report also determined that the state’s economic development efforts rely too heavily on handing out checks to companies for locating or remaining in Pennsylvania. Instead, the state should rely more on helping create and expand homegrown businesses. Pennsylvania has been a leader in such “grow-your-own” programs since the 1980s, but their funding has been slashed nearly in half since 2008-2009.
“With the sharp economic downturn, now is the time to rethink how the state promotes economic development,” said Stephen Herzenberg, PhD, Keystone Research Center’s Executive Director and lead author of the report. “These investments should be focused on growing and developing innovative clusters of Pennsylvania businesses, rather than harvesting companies from other states.”
I’ve seen economic development money go to questionable projects. Many do nothing more than create minimum wage jobs. Why are we wasting precious tax dollars for projects which return so little? Shouldn’t we be prioritizing this money to have the biggest impact, create good, family sustaining, middle class jobs? Do we really need more hotels hiring maids, janitors and desk clerks? Do we need more shopping centers in a time when commercial real estate is reeling? I’ve also seen money wasted by supporting a dying industry like newspapers (The Reading Eagle) and statues (Albert Boscov) in addition to supporting Mr. Boscov’s repurchase of his department store chain. These are low paying jobs or industries headed for the junk heap of history.
This is why we need transparency and accountability. Keystone Research Center makes several recommendations:
1. Target traditional business subsidies to companies with good jobs, in industries that make sense for Pennsylvania, and to places with existing infrastructure near areas with high unemployment.
2. Improve transparency and public disclosure by making Pennsylvania’s online subsidy database – the “Investment Tracker” – a more complete and usable tool, with information on jobs created, wages and health care benefits provided, and the street address of business sites where subsidies are used.
3. Create a unified development budget that provides an annual report to the state legislature cataloging and analyzing all state spending for economic development, including tax breaks.
4. Enact economic development accountability legislation to require better public disclosure, strengthen job quality standards, and recapture subsidies when companies don’t create jobs.
5. Shift the state’s emphasis in economic development to growing its own businesses. Grow-your-own programs deliver a higher documented return on investment than subsidies to individual companies and are a more legitimate focus of public investment than one-company handouts.
6. Change the business model and mindset of economic development organizations so that they do not depend on “doing the deal” to run their operations and instead have a stake in a 21st-century state economic development strategy.
Unfortunately politics trumps intelligent, smart choices for Pennsylvania taxpayers. Boscov got millions because he wrote checks to Gov. Rendell at $50,000 increments. Money talks in Harrisburg and those giving the money got the money. These were very good investments for businessmen, not for the people.