Fix or build a new Sellwood Bridge! But don't hurt the church (NO option E). More lightrail. More bike stuff. Clean up the superfund site on the Willamette down town. Some good high-paying jobs doing that.
We need a serious investment in our schools, on education technology and in teacher training so that our children are able to compete in a global market. Without a focused commitment on developing tomorrow's entrepreneurs, any economic recovery we achieve is meaningless.
Putting in a high-speed MAX line from Portland to Salem would create immediate jobs, boost the economies of both cities and take thousands of commuters off the freeway.
Here's a very handy WSJ spread showing how much aid each state is slated to receive from the House bill. Per capita, Oregon is the fifth lowest recipient of federal dollars. We'll ask Charles Pope why.
Do you have an answer of your own?
Thanks for sharing this, disappointing particularly given the fast population growth of the state.
You cannot fix bad loans by building a bridge.
We need to spend our precious limited resources on fixing the problem. The more I watch the government flail around, the more obvious it becomes to me that it is avoiding the hard work necessary to get out of this mess. All these politicians know how to do is shovel pork instead of addressing the root causes of the financial crisis.
The financial industry is waiting for the government to take its toxic waste off its hands and make the taxpayers eat it. And as long as they continue to do that, we are going to remain in this recession. They are all still holding ungodly sums of debt, and that is what is keeping the entire economy down. They don't want their investors to take the hit.
The money is gone, and the sooner everyone faces up to that, the sooner we will get our economy going again.
The government is spending the money on this stimulus package that it is is going to need for further bailouts. This is a huge mistake.
Here is what would actually stimulate the economy.
1. An immediate moratorium on negative amortization option loans. 80 percent of borrowers in a Pick-A-Payment loan make the lowest payment, which is a negative amortization payment. When their loan resets after three years, they will owe more than they originally borrowed. Take a look at this chart. You see that spike near the end of 2007 which started all of this? Take a look at the bigger spike in 2011. That is from loans which have been written since this crisis started. The banks have been continuing to add to the problem! It is still going on. They have not stopped.
We ain't seen nothin' yet. All those people in that spike are going to discover in 2011 that the money they owe is greater than what they borrowed in 2008. Their mortgage payments are going to rise accordingly. Meanwhile, the value of their homes continues to go down. And that means even more defaults than we have seen to date.
2. A Negative Amortization Amnesty. Everyone who borrowed money since January 2005 gets their principal reset to what they originally borrowed if they have been in a negative amortization payment plan, and they are refinanced into the current fixed interest rates.
3. Henceforth, credit default swaps can only be sold to those who have a documented insurable interest. "Insurable interest" is an industry term. And the swaps must be sold openly and transparently, and audited by regulators.
The government is just delaying the necessary cure. And the longer it delays by trying to buy happiness with pork, the longer this recession will drag on.
Lets consider a radical approach that would get our region back to work and address a lot of the housing crisis at the same time.
1) Buy the big houses that are foreclosed and dragging property values in their communities back to what normal working folks can afford (oops, I meant way down... forgot myself there).
2) Burn said houses to the ground (or otherwise totally demolish them).
3) Either a) build far less expensive smaller quality homes on the old sites or b) landscape and sell the empty lots to the neighbors to increase their lot sizes.
There are several pluses here, especially with 3a (more on that in a minute). Biggest problem we have ISN"T that folks who can’t afford their homes are loosing value, but that the rarer ones who can have their value drop below reason. If two homes on the block are foreclosed, the real value of the others falls, and keeps falling until one of two things happens: the houses sell OR the houses aren’t there to detract from the neighborhood. My suggestion for the package is to start by stabilizing home values by REMOVING the sea anchors of too much overpriced inventory.
OK, now to 3a: Building new homes restarts huge sectors of the economy. The government should NOT allow the folks who have been building mansions to design or build the replacements, in my opinion the mega builders deserve their financial pain for being part of the frenzy. But the designs should not be out of character with the neighborhoods, just more reasonable in size and affordability. This would stabilize the existing home prices, put construction workers back to work, restart much of the wood products industry with all the demand, and the related industries would be able to bring folks back on making cabinets, tile, etc. Money would get into the economy quickly as transportation sector and service sector jobs would need to come back online like they have in every housing boom this country has had.
Finally, the taxpayers would see that this wasn’t a mindless throwing good money after bad. Most people I know know they’ll never even know anyone who can afford these large expensive homes. Trying to keep them on the market while "stabilizing" the value close to what will keep the neighbors from foundering means we are just imagining that the boom will return and everyone will be happy enslaving themselves to whatever entity will promise them that they can afford it...
I think jobs are very important BUT i am not hearing about jobs for people like me who are older and have been laid off. I can' t pave roads or do construction and I am losing my home and with no job ... well neeed I say more. I can't get unemployment cause I am considered self employed even though I worked for someone else. There are people like me who fall through the cracks... wheres the stimulus package for us?
Funding for all of these projects would be good, as schools and transportation need serious improvement.
I hope it creates an employees' market. For the last 7 years, I have not been able to secure a full time permanent job, (but have had part time work). I earned a Master's degree in Public Administration 2 years ago, and still no luck. I know my resume is strong, and I interview well. But feedback from temp agencies and employers I interviewed with tell me I'm either underqualified or overqualified. I hope the stimulus package creates jobs for those of us who are professional, have some semblance of a track record, and just need our careers jump started. There are a lot of talented people out there who need a break, and will make valuble contributions to these projects and ultimately the community.
No net new highway lanes.
The U.S. (not alone) is facing two simultaneous generational crises, the financial/economic crisis and the climate/environmental crisis.
We can't afford to deal with these separately. Neither can be ignored, at our peril. We need to deal with both at once.
Fortunately there is plenty of overlap. We need to spend a lot of money in our local economies, and we need to update and green our infrastructure. There are plenty of things to do that meet the needs of both crises at once.
However, there is a big institutional temptation to fall back on business as usual in response to the financial crisis - even though that's what got us into this predicament.
Probably the biggest single thing we must avoid, in the course of needed stimulus spending, is expansion of the highway system. Plenty of robust studies demonstrate how additional net lane miles of highway effectively induce driving, sprawl, VMT, and therefore increase our carbon emissions for a long time to come.
This should be a litmus test for the green stimulus we need: no net new miles of roadway.
Almost any other likely investment would be more environmentally desirable - and thus, would be a much better investment in our future together.
I couldn't disagree more.
While I certainly think limiting urban road construction is a great idea, there are two critical things a blanket statement such as this overlooks:
- Freight traffic is hugely impacted by lack of capacity, both on the rails and the roads. Oregon has two key bottlenecks — I-5 at the Columbia and I-5 from Salem to Eugene. Both need to be fixed.
- Safety. While cities have burgeoned in population, the West's regional road network looks just like it did in 1970 — and in rural areas, like it did in the 1930s. That means that Bend is connected to the rest of the country by dangerous two-lane roads; there is no convenient and safe way to get to the coast from Portland; there is no alternative to I-5 for regional freight traffic.
The rest of the country has gotten billions, if not more, from Washington to upgrade its regional highway infrastructure. The West has lagged behind in that department, and it costs us money and lives. Rail won't work because there are no convenient rail lines to many cities, while other potential corridors simply are incompatible with rail topographically.
The roads of the West were designed for the 1930s, not today. It's time to upgrade them and give us our fair deal.
We need employment equity in the spending, to ensure that this is not just a full-employment measure for White Men. An equitable investment will address the disparities in hiring AND training for People of Color. Joseph Santos-Lyons
There is strong evidence which suggests if employers are required to hire American citizens, black employment in the construction industry would return to their high employment of the past in that industry.
Illegal immigrants have displaced black workers in the construction industry more than any other demographic.
Republicans keep saying it is wasteful spending? Give us back some of the BILLIONS that have been blindly funnelled to the war in Iraq and into the pockets of contractors there so we can spend it at home on things that will benefit us directly.
All the reports on NPR (& elsewhere) project that this debit funded stimulus package will have little effect for 18 months. Friends that is about 18 months too late for literally millions of people! If this bailout, oh excuse me, stimulus package is as effective as the one that we just “had” to give the banks, it will not only be18 months to late it will be FAR too little and have no real impact on MOST people.
The single thing that must be done to jumpstarting the “consumer based” economy is to get the “Consumer” to spend money! That is the one thing that must be done however the consumer can not spend what they do not have; that old plastic credit paradigm has failed!
I recognize it is simplistic however, drastic conditions require drastic methods. If we ignore that this stimulus package is being funded on credit. The exact same model that has failed the individual tax payers so completely. Why do we not just give every person filing a legitimate tax return for 2008 the roughly $9000 that this package that has just been approved will total out at?
Consumers will spend the money. The smart Consumers will pay off debit. Some Consumers that can will save the money thus generating taxes. Sounds far too simple but the effects would be darn near immediate! Not 18 months too late
Yes, I am serious; no I do not expect this to taken seriously by the experts.
In many parts of the state for more then 11% of the work force the “system” has failed. At what number, percentage unemployed, will the “system” completely fail for everyone?
Dave, thanks for the WSJ link. Unfortunately, tables like this can not take into account how efficiently each state will use stimulus dollars. Wish we had a way to see how effectively our state and local governments use their dollars. The perception is that governments sucks at expending the people's money effectively.
This new stimulus won'te get to me because I live in a spider hole: a middle-aged Oregonian with high tech skills who has had trouble getting sniffs at new, well-paying employment.
Oregon's poorest first need food, housing, healthcare and education.
Second, we need to provide jobs and training so people can work on already started projects.
I bike but there isn't enough stimulus money to use much of it on bike path improvement - as much as that resource is desired.
Investing in highways has to be done but it's like throwing money into potholes and driving over it. Fix the highest-priority highway projects in the maintenance back log but let's not build new highways.
Scrap the Columbia River Crossing. I get the feeling this project is pushed by businesses who rely on trucks to deliver goods. These businesses lay off people at the first sign of trouble. I don't want to be threatened by businesses who force us all to concede to their demands or they'll take their jobs somewhere less expensive. I don't want to be polluted out of Portland.
We need to promote, push, demand telecommuting. Was on the freeway yesterday and 90% of the cars were occupied by one person. As much as we love the independence and convenience afforded by cars, we must struggle to drive less.
"50% of funds need to be obligated within 90 days"
That sounds like money that will hit the economy in a lot less than 18 months. Starting to help strapped employers pretty darn quickly.
A question for the ODOT representative:
What is on your list in terms of bicycle & pedestrian projects? Many of the major gaps in the bike lane network in the metro area are on ODOT roads - e.g. the Barbur bridges where bikes must merge into the lane, or the TV Hwy bike lane that ends suddenly on SE 10th in Hillsboro. Likewise, ODOT roads in urbanized areas tend to be unfriendly places for pedestrians since they were designed to facilitate moving auto traffic through the cities.
I know that someone at ODOT must be thinking about this, but are there any initiatives related to the stimulus package?
I am concerned that the national rush to do maintenance on the roadways will temporarily overwhelm surveyors, planners, engineers, staffers, and others. Further, it will cause a HUGE spike in demand for materials (such as asphalt) and heavy equipment (such as graders). This spike in demand will result in unneeded price increases as well as delays. While there's a readily available supply of labor...How can we ramp up these programs so we don't over-whelm the available supply of materials and equipment?
How does an ordinary person receive stimulus money? Is there an office in Oregon to apply? There must be many small projects that would give people work.
I have a small apartment house that needs rehabilitation. It would give several people work right away. Who do I contact?
Re. Green infrastructure and economic stimulus.
The Columbia River Gorge will continue to be a tourist destination through bad economy:
Bring back Amtrak/ light rail from eastern Oregon/ the Columbia River Gorge to Portland and from Portland through the Gorge. Get Portland hikers, bikers, sightseers out of their cars and using rail. Reduce smog. Allows those of us in eastern Oregon to work in Portland, connect with Amtrak and PDX.
Conservative Republican Economics? Give tax cuts to the wealthy.
Need a bridge repaired? Give tax cuts to the wealthy!
Schools need repairs? Give a tax cut to the wealthy!
Need to finance a war on Iraq? Give tax cuts to the wealthy and the rest of you go shopping!
Sheesh, Conservatism got us into this mess, more Conservatism will not get us out.
Isn't it time to return to rational economics?
I want the money spent on infrastructure.
I will feel ENCOURAGED if we spending it building the world of the future, not shoring up the world of the past. We need green power, clean water, wired schools businesses and homes, public transit, affordable health care, etc, etc, etc. Not just patched roads and roofs, repaired bridges and more of the same.
I'd like to see this money go towards making college education affordable with cheaper loans and more grants. If college were more accessible to more people, and people actually went to school it would a) take some of the demand off the immediate job market and b) create a more educated community that will draw high end employers to the region.
We need to increase the capacity of the Oregon University System to accomodate more students. I am a graduate student at PSU and they are splitting at the seams with every classroom being used almost all the time.
Sorry,...This isn't going to work Very different than pre-WWII economy. USA does not have an industrial engine anymore, and you can't sustain an economy by 'vapor- business'. We have no tangible assets for building a strong economy, and are quickly losing our intellectual assets. A pretty grave situation.
Stimulous is Too late, too slow, too restricted to infrastructure projects (very narrow part of economy)
The "money obligated" does not equal "money released..." When is the last time you got a permit of a significant federally funded infrastructure project? This takes months and often years.
This is political fluff and posturing, they might consider 'wiring' those of us in rural areas that are on modems... That will get us back in the economy.
We must invest in clean energy and clean transportation. Lets see some generous refunds both for those who develop and those who purchase electric vehicles. Lets get those vehicles on the road now!
This originally appearing in the Oregonian "My Oregon" Blog, and so I am forwarding this message on in the spirit of collaboration with new possibilities for ourselves, our communities and our planet. ~
Invest in the Real Wealth of Portland!
The following is an open letter to President Obama's economic team and to all citizens from Riane Eisler, author of The Real Wealth of Nations. This Saturday there is an Economic Town Hall being held at the First Unitarian Church from 1-5. We all need to participate in holding our representatives responsible for what we want.
" The real wealth of our nation is its people.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan emphasizes the need to invest in our material infrastructure (bridges, roads, etc.) and our natural infrastructure (green jobs, environmental sustainability, etc.). I urge you make a larger investment in the third, even more critical infrastructure: the human infrastructure.
Good ideas for investing in our nation's human infrastructure – that is, in human capacity development starting in childhood – are detailed in your proposed family, healthcare, and educational policies. But they should be a salient part of the new economic policy being rolled out right now. By making human capacity development a focal point, we will not only stimulate economic recovery through an extremely cost effective investment; we will also position ourselves to restore and renew our standing
as a positive force in the global community, culturally, politically, and environmentally.
Our economic crisis is not due simply to the globalization of unregulated capitalism; the problem goes much deeper - and so must the solutions. We're shifting from the industrial to the post-industrial era where our most important asset is what economists
like to call "high-quality human capital": flexible, innovative, capable people.
Producing this high-quality human capital requires good childcare in homes, good early childhood education in schools and communities, good healthcare, and other long-term
investments in caring for the real wealth of our nation: people. To this end, these suggestions address both the market and non-market economies."
~her letter continues, to read more~ http://rianeeisler.com
For 10 years we have been borrowing on equity and rebuilding our homes and businesses. Now we all have new kitchens but there's no equity left- all those jobs are drying up and the debt remains to be paid. Was that a false economy? Is the stimulus the same thing?
How sustainable is it to continue to prop up an economy that in a year might be facing the same problems. Survival is good but what about the long term?
Oregon and the US in general needs to get back to inventing, designing and creating, saleable and sustainable products. Go ahead with the infrastructure but put some of the money toward securing production jobs that will last. Casey in NE Portland
Several months ago on OPB I saw a program about the many older schools in Oregon that do not meet minimal earthquake standards. The cost of retrofitting these schools far exceeded current funding. To me, making schools safe for our children is the highest priority. Will there be funds available for these types of projects?
A local economy must be strong in order to have a strong national economy. Let's quit bleeding money in the form of fuel, and create local infrastructure to support the puchase and consumption of local goods. Every time we transport something, we're importing products and services from foreign countries. This is rediculousely inefficient.
Why spend a dime fixing up public housing? Instead, derelict public housing should be razed, with the occupants being relocated to bank-owned properties scattered throughout the area. The government already effectively owns the banks, so they already effectively own the foreclosed houses... Not only does it cost less money, it gives the poor a hand up by intermixing them throughout our communities.
Jeff Hammarlund is right about the smart grid.
We're not only in an economic crisis, we're in a global warming crisis and we need to "dynamite the brakes" (old railroad and busdriver term meaning to slam the brakes on) on the burning of fossil fuels.
This is a perfect opportunity to address both problems by investing in the smart grid and alternative energy sources.
Your guest mentioned the CATO institute; they are promoting revisionist Conservative Republican history about the great Depression to conform with Conservative ideology instead of the reality of what actually happened.
When Microsoft used this technique a few years ago they called it spreading FUD, Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt.
Amity Schlaes has written a new FUD book with this history revisionism and was on TOTN last week promoting it.
I'd like to see some of the stimulus money spent on passenger rail down the I5 corridor. Amtrak doesn't cut it - their route was established probably 100 years ago and they play 2nd fiddle to freight making them extremely unreliable. Better yet, lets have a modern passenger rail system from Vancouver, BC to San Diego, Ca!
In Corvallis I'd like to see the 'rails to trails' bike path from Corvallis to Albany along Hwy 20 completed. We didn't have the money a few years ago.
Alternate take. After reading other comments here, I have to agree: a stimulus program built on debt is going to lead us to the same place as credit card debt, or mortgage debt based on mortgages we couldn't afford. We're hosed. I figure this stimulus is an attempt to give us a handkerchief instead of a parachute to survive the crash landing of our economy. We're trying to slow down our descent but we're doing it stupidly. Could my parents have been right - again? Hard work. Get educated. Savings. Put off purchases until you can buy stuff outright. No debt except for mortgage. Damn those wise old people for taking away all my live-for-the-moment fun!
Why not loan/give the stimulus money to school districts that have shown a need for new schools. The Banks School District recently narrowly defeated a bond measure to build new Junior and Senior High schools. The need is there. The ground work is started.
The patrons would probably be willing to pay this money back. Why not loan it the money at zero % interest. Maybe a matching fund program. The fedral government would at least get something in return.
This would quickly create jobs. It could use local and national goods and materials. It would thus stimulate the economy. It would be something our children and grandchildren could use. This only seems fair since they are stock holders in this situation. It would create community pride.
I'm sure we are not the only district in the state that could take advantage of such a program.
This seems like a win win deal in my mind.
What am I looking for in a stimulus package?
Federally-supplied and free Viagra or Cialis.
I have been searching for anything online which might bear upon whether any consideration has been given, or any studies undertaken, about routing a high speed rail line between Portland and Bend. Given the focus on the funding of high speed rail by the Obama administration, this might be something to consider. The idea of being able to connect Central Oregon (routing would be through Madras, Redmond and Bend), so that one could almost commute from or to those cities to or from Portland, with perhaps an hour to an hour and a half ride each way is attractive, particularly being able to avoid the drive, which in winter months can easily take four hours or more.
If there hasn't been consideration given or studies done, perhaps we should move for that kind of action on the part of our state government.
The economic impact on Central Oregon could be enormous. I'm interested to hear others views on this subject.
Truthfully, I've had that thought cross my mind on more than one occaision and it would impact Central Oregon in a big way.
Not only by workers being able to commute easily and quickly between the cities, but also it would greatly impact Portland area shopping as well as Bend area recreation economics by making it merely a "quick trip" rather than an all day event. This alone would get a lot more people to travel more often.
Great idea! I also haven't seen any studies on the topic... maybe it's time to start getting the ball rolling w/ preliminary studies of our own to catch the attention of policy and decision makers.
I'm a real estate investor and internet marketing consultant to mid-sized companies (revenues from $5mm to $20mm)... I'd love to help in any efforts on this project going forward. Just let me know.
Comments are now closed.