Stimulus + Mass Transit = Opportunity

blackwell.06_01_30.jpgI generally avoid cable news like the plague but I've been tuning in lately hoping to find some interesting discussion of the federal stimulus bill. Despite my low expectations of the medium I've been amazed by the inanity, the lack of substance and the incredible amount of Republican demagoguery being allowed to make it onto the airwaves.

Rather than digging in to where the federal money is actually going and what the impact of that might be on everyday Americans, the cable nets are obsessed with the question of how many Republicans might vote for the bill and what Obama needs to do to woo them.

If there are any CNN producers paying attention, here's a suggestion: Get Angela Glover Blackwell in front of a camera, would ya? Blackwell, the founder and chief executive of Oakland-based PolicyLink has a letter in this morning's New York Times that really nails some important talking points that the American people need to be hearing right now:

To the Editor:

Your editorial about the stimulus package’s lack of attention to the concerns of low-income Americans (“Sins of Omission: The Forgotten Poor,” Feb. 2) was right on target. Though the package does include expansion of food stamps and jobless benefits, social services alone will not meet the needs of the poor.

The huge infrastructure spending already included in the package could easily be retargeted to dramatically improve the lives of millions of low-income Americans and their communities. By expanding mass transit and providing operating funds for cash-strapped transit agencies, we can create and save thousands of jobs and connect residents to economic opportunity throughout their region.

By using tax incentives to lure grocery stores to poor neighborhoods, we can create long-term retail jobs and ensure much-needed access to healthy food. By investing in successful job training programs, we can build a vibrant 21st-century work force.

The stimulus package provides a once-in-a-generation chance to make good on America’s promise of equal opportunity for all. Smarter social and infrastructure spending is vital to making that promise a reality.

Angela Glover Blackwell