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.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.
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.
"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.