Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Obama's urban agenda

The Dem. candidate has used the DNC to issue his revised urban agenda, reports the WSJ.
The wide-ranging plan contains bedrock Democratic principles, pledging to increase funding for affordable housing, raise the minimum wage to $9.50 by 2011, triple the income-tax credit tied to that wage and fully fund the federal No Child Left Behind policy for schools.

Centerpieces include creation of a new White House Office of Urban Policy and the restoration of billions of dollars cut from community block grants, a key source of funding for cities.

In a nod to one of the mayors' top priorities, Sen. Obama would open a national bank, seeded with $60 billion over 10 years, to finance road, bridge, airport and other public-works projects in metropolitan areas. The bank would be modeled on the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., with an independent board of directors.

Sen. Obama says his administration would shift urban-policy making to so-called smart-growth strategies that synchronize transportation, commercial and housing needs for entire regions, rather than following the tradition of focusing first on fighting poverty and crime. He would fund $200 million in annual grants to develop "regional clusters," such as the high-technology-focused area known as the Research Triangle in North Carolina.

McCain's plan, such as it is, sees crime as the major impediment to healthy cities and calls for a "surge-type strategy" to clear the path for investment, specifically praising Giuliani. It sounds a bit like Gotham to me.
"You go into neighborhoods, you clamp down, you provide a secure environment for the people that live there, and you make sure that the known criminals are kept under control," he said. "And you provide them with a stable environment and then they cooperate with law enforcement."
For obvious reasons, Obama senses a dominant advantage on the urban policy front - but as Drum Major Institute argues, this is all the more reason to expect and demand more than Obama's earlier, vague commitments to urban funding and growth.

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