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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Don’t Want No Stimulation

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Now we know why Republicans aren’t very much fun on dates. Forget the Rolling Stones singing about getting no “Satisfaction.” Republicans don’t even want no “Stimulation.”

When the Obama administration put together an economic stimulus plan to head off a second Great Depression, Republicans made a political decision to oppose any government action to improve the lives of Americans.

It was a clever way to try to keep the new Democratic president from succeeding in saving the country while pretending Republican obstruction was based on some high-minded philosophy of government.

Republicans weren’t opposed to reversing the loss of millions of jobs and putting people back to work, mind you. They just didn’t think it was the government’s role to help create jobs. Never mind that was the only way President Franklin Delano Roosevelt got the country out of the original Great Depression—by massive federal spending on jobs programs.

The embarrassing part for Republicans is now that substantial amounts of money are starting to reach hard-pressed areas around the country without their support, it’s doing exactly what stimulus spending is supposed to do—stimulating jobs.

In Wisconsin, that has put Republican gubernatorial candidates like Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker and former Congressman Mark Neumann in the ridiculous position of opposing an $823 million financial windfall for the state.

The funds are part of stimulus spending to make Wisconsin a vital link in a high-speed rail system connecting major Midwestern cities including St. Louis, Chicago, Milwaukee, Madison and Minneapolis-St. Paul.

Within days of the announcement of the original federal spending, more announcements of new jobs followed. That’s why it’s called stimulus.

Milwaukee Benefits

The latest announcement is a major one, both for what it is and where it is. Spanish train manufacturer Talgo announced that it would build its first U.S. assembly plant for the growing high-speed American train network on Milwaukee’s North Side at the abandoned A.O. Smith/Tower Automotive site.

Talgo will start off with 125 jobs building at least four trains for Wisconsin and Oregon. But clearly by establishing itself in the center of the United States as a major manufacturer of the country’s trains of the future, the Milwaukee plant is well positioned to expand right along with the system.

These are the so-called “jobs of the future” everybody talks about, but very few cities have yet seen. Milwaukee is about to become a recognized world leader in high-technology train assembly.

As important as getting in on the ground floor of a national growth industry is where it is being located.

Ever since A.O. Smith and Tower Automotive abandoned the site, the concrete desert left behind in the heart of Milwaukee’s black community has been a painful reminder of all the family-supporting jobs gone forever from Northern rust-belt cities.

Now, an industry of the future becomes the first piece in the city’s development of a new Century City business park in the center of the city to provide skilled jobs for the next century.

The train assembly plant also is expected to create hundreds of jobs for parts suppliers in Milwaukee and Wisconsin.

As the news gets better and better, Republicans are still stuck with their original opposition to accepting nearly a billion dollars in stimulus funds from the federal government.

Walker and Neumann have even gone so far as to claim if either of them became governor, they would try to shut down the partially built high-speed Midwestern train network unless the federal government agreed to come up with $7 million more for the state’s annual operating costs.

Get that? Republicans would stop $823 million in federal spending in the state that would create thousands of jobs for Wisconsinites because they are opposed to the state spending a cent toward its own economic development.

Increased state tax revenue from those new jobs alone would more than pay for operating costs.

That does not even include all the future jobs that would be created once high-speed rail is operating throughout the Midwest.

Here’s one idea any Milwaukee County executive should be thinking about: High-speed rail service from Chicago would connect 10 million people in the Chicago area to a stop right at Milwaukee County’s Mitchell International Airport.

Suddenly, Milwaukee’s airport becomes just as convenient for Chicagoans to use as the far more crowded and problematic O’Hare.

The jobs created by high-speed rail aren’t limited to Milwaukee. Stops between Milwaukee and Madison in Brookfield, Oconomowoc and Watertown promise additional economic development for those areas.

Let Walker and Neumann explain why they oppose creating more jobs in those communities as well.

Meanwhile, Mayor Tom Barrett, the Democratic candidate for governor, is on the side of stimulating jobs.

Let’s see. Stimulating versus Adamantly Opposed to Any Stimulation. Which one would you go out with?