The nonpartisan Economic Policy Institute, in its analysis of President Obama's newest budget, announced last week "we find that the president’s job creation proposals would create 1.5 million jobs in fiscal year 2012 and 1.3 million jobs in fiscal year 2013 (through Sept. 2013)." EPI continues, "In his proposed budget, the president includes a $350 billion jobs package that would have an immediate positive impact on the economy and jobs. About 85 percent ($300 billion) of the package would hit the economy in the next year and a half." Working from the Congressional Budget Office's projections, EPI projects unemployment would fall 0.5% this year to remain at around 8.3%. Obama's high line priorities:
- $95 billion in the payroll tax cuts (to employees)
- $80 billion in other business tax cuts (including a $25 billion hiring credit)
- $45 billion in emergency unemployment benefit extensions
- $25 billion in transportation infrastructure investments ($50 billion over ten years)
- $20 billion in school facility repair and modernization
- $30 billion in retaining or rehiring teachers and first responders
- $25 billion miscellaneous neighborhood stabilization, job training, energy efficiency, VA conservation jobs, infrastructure bank, and manufacturing incentives
Which leads to the fundamental point of this blog: Are we environmentalists missing the biggest opportunity of our lives? Isn't it time for environmentalists to focus on up-dating the American economy? There is no rebuilding of our American economic infrastructure without solving environmental problems, too. Shouldn't Americans, in general, strive to lead the world by ecologizing every economic endeavor, quantifying winners and losers according to financial, social, and environmental criteria, and elevating policy choices accordingly?
According to EPI, Obama's Recovery Act has "created or saved over 1,000,000 jobs" in just two years since its enactment, and is "laying a foundation for the development of a 21st century green economy in the United States." Want more good news? 67% of Republicans oppose fossil fuel subsidies, red-state Texans are becoming concerned about drought, fire, health, safety, local economies and their future, Brad Pitt is openly criticizing the world's transportation paradigm, businesses everywhere are cutting costs through resource efficiency. The green movement today is effectively mainstream, all about costs, fairness, security, and self-interest. There are metrics out there a lot of people would like to know about.
Environmentalists MUST seize this moment to begin reworking the economy. Light bulbs, polar bears and high morals won't be enough to solve environmental problems at scale. We have enormous, hairy scary stuff to deal with and nothing but tough roads ahead. Whether we environmentalists are to achieve people-saving change (some call it planet-saving) or watch as today's status quo steamrolls long term well being, change ain't gonna be easy. But recent research, by organizations such as the American Lung Association, suggests Americans are aware and reaching a tipping point.
So listen-up enviro friends: In matters of solving environmental problems let's follow the money. How do American's spend their money? Generally on disposable, non-recycleable, energy intensive, fossil-fuel-based, globally sourced, unsustainably harvested, occasionally toxic, non-organic: foods, goods, and services. (When will that stop?) How does our economy grow? Through resource intensive harvesting above natural limits, by socializing the costs of environmental damage in an astonishingly myriad number of ways, and by sprawling ever outward. What kinds of impacts are these practices having on costs, fairness, security, and self-interest? What if we spent our money more sustainably? What if we stopped investing in ecologically unsustainable industries and focused on growing jobs in the opposite manner?
We need a new private market.
Politically it's good vs. evil, no matter what your persuasion is. Obama's last jobs package was beaten down by a filibuster. Obama's new budget has been endorsed by the Center for American Progress.