Small rally bolsters Obama economic plan

By Elizabeth Stortroen
THE COLORADO STATESMAN

Two days before President-elect Barack Obama addressed the nation to kick off a campaign on behalf of his economic recovery package, Democratic officeholders, members of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, environmentalists and other local progressives held a small rally at the Capitol to show their support.

“We need to come together today because we are a nation and a state in crisis,” said Linda Medlock, legislative community organizer for ACORN.

“This investment will create jobs right now…and it will help in rebuilding the backbone of America,” she said.

On the same day the 111th Congress convened, the Colorado supporters urged speedy passage of the multifaceted plan, which is aimed at stabilizing the U.S. economy and job market.

In November, unemployment was pegged at 6.7 percent, the highest rate in 15 years.

“Working families are not getting a bailout, and they are not asking for one. What we need to do is put the middle class back to work so they can contribute to society,” said Rep. Judy Solano, D-Brighton.

State Reps. Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver, Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, D-Gunbarrel and John Kefalas, D-Fort Collins, as well as Sen. Gail Schwartz, D-Snowmass, also attended.

In a speech delivered Thursday at George Mason University in suburban Virginia, Obama warned that solving the nation’s economic problems
won’t be easy.

“There is no doubt that the cost of this plan will be considerable,” he said. “It will certainly add to the budget deficit in the short term. But equally certain are the consequences of doing too little or nothing at all, for that will lead to an even greater deficit of jobs, incomes and confidence in our economy.”

Obama also said the plan would create or save some 3 million jobs within two years through investment in energy conservation, renewable energy technologies, schools, health care, transportation and infrastructure.

In Denver on Tuesday, Keith Hay, clean energy advocate for Environment Colorado said, “Clean energy produced at home means jobs stay here and are not outsourced. Green collar jobs are putting people to work today.”

Obama urged Congress to “move as quickly as possible with passing this new economic stimulus plan, due to the severity of the issue at hand.”

The jobs and economic recovery package includes:

• Development of clean energy programs: “Green” jobs can boost all sectors of the economy and include many that never could be outsourced.

• Extension of Unemployment Insurance: The recently passed extension expires at the end of March.

• Increases in Food Stamps and the Emergency Food Assistance Program: The Congressional Budget Office ranks temporary boosts in food assistance highly cost-effective.

• Expansion of the Housing Voucher Program: Money would help families pay their rent and aid renters who are evicted from foreclosed properties when their landlords default on the mortgage.

Beth@coloradostatesman.com