Between 1933 and 1936, President Franklin D. Roosevelt initiated a series of economic programs and policies that would be termed the New Deal. It was intended to give relief to the unemployed, reform business and financial practices, and help the struggling economy fight through the woes of the Great Depression. While many of the programs and regulations were unwound in subsequent years, many of its programs are still in place today such as the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Federal Housing Administration, the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Social Security System, and the SEcurities and Exchange Commission.
On December 6th, 2008, President-elect Barack Obama unveiled, in his weekly address, his version of the 21st Century New Deal, designed to achieve similar goals, most notably to bring the United States out of the recession it currently faces. He seeks to achieve this aim by investing billions of dollars into improving the transportation infrastructure in this nation, roads and bridges, that has been severely underfunded (as evidenced by the studies following the tragic collapse of I-35W in Minnesota, killing 13 and injuring 145). Today, President-elect Obama outlined the principles of his plan (5 minutes) to create 2.5 million jobs.
Here were the major points of his program:
- Improve energy efficiency of public buildings, by upgrading those buildings with new HVAC systems and energy efficient lightbulbs.
- Extend funding to improve the infrastructure of the federal highway system (“single largest new investment in our national infrastructure since the creation of the federal highway system in the 1950s”), with a deadline for allocation so that states move quickly to use what is allocated. This is intended to create a great many jobs.
- Modernize and upgrade school buildings from both an energy efficiency perspective, like public buildings, as well as outfit them with new computers.
- Extend the reach of broadband internet access, improve the United States’ rank of 15th in the world in broadband adoption.
- Interconnect hospital medical records through the internet by modernizing the health care system.
The address lacks details and numbers because it’s impossible to give details and numbers until January 20th. What you will hear is him explaining the major points of his plan, none of which include a stimulus check to families. I’d argue though that the stimulus checks did nothing to improve our situation and a family facing job loss would much rather have the option of working on an infrastructure plan than cashing a $300 check.