Region Forward Blog

The Morning Measure: Politics and the Purse

Feb 14, 2011
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Progress halted? Lawmakers and pundits are taking aim at two of President Obama’s key initiatives for ensuring the country’s competitiveness in the 21st century. Leaders in the House of Representatives are hoping to reduce or eliminate Obama’s plan to bring high-speed rail to the U.S. as well as investments and innovation in clean energy. Clean energy will be a major economic growth sector over the next decades though it has become an ideological lightning rod.

In other news emanating from the House after stripping D.C.’s Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton of her voting rights in committee (she has never enjoyed full voting rights) the House Majority leadership is hoping to reduce or eliminate funding for D.C. and for WMATA making cuts in vital city programs and likely exacerbating already large budget holes for the city and the transit agency. Norton claims that the new House leadership is “out to get us.”

The changing face(s) of the District. We wrote Friday about the amazing population growth in the region’s suburbs from 2000-2009. The Washington Post today has a piece looking at the transformation of D.C. over that same time period noting that the increase in the city’s affluent population has changed the employment base and is pricing lower-income folks out of the District. As we’ve noted here before it’s great to see D.C.’s population growing again but we need to make sure the growth benefits all income levels.

No free lunch. According to a new study by the Rockefeller Foundation Americans think transportation is a major priority with a vast majority saying infrastructure investment is important. The only snag? They don’t want to pay for any of it. Also Amtrak is continuing to set records – with 15 months of steady increases in ridership. We’ll see if Amtrak can continue to grow in the same cutting board environment that is taking aim at rail and energy as mentioned above.

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