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12 Comments Economy GOP mayors like Obama’s jobs plan. GOP governors don’t.


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Jul 21, 2010
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GOP mayors like Obama’s jobs plan. GOP governors don’t.

Republicans in Washington have little love for President Obama’s jobs plan and his proposal to pay for it. But the president may find a warmer reception from Republicans governing on the local level. The U.S. Conference of Mayors--a bipartisan national group for mayors of major cities--has openly embraced the American Jobs Act, with key Republican mayors offering high praise for the president’s infrastructure spending plan. And the group has come to Washington this week to press that point upon Congress, the White House, and the supercommittee.

Mick Cornett, the GOP mayor of Oklahoma City, welcomes the infrastructure spending that Obama has proposed in his jobs bill, explaining that mayors witness the impact of such investments on the ground level. “Mayors see up close the deferred maintenance that’s going on in nation’s cities..it’s just a ticking time bomb. We also know that it puts people to work,” says Cornett, president of the Republican Mayors and Local Officials coalition within the U.S. Conference. Obama’s jobs plan proposes new infrastructure spending on everything from rebuilding schools to an infrastructure finance bank--all of which Cornett supports. “We need to be working on all of these really big picture items that are generational.”

Cornett says that, by contrast, Congressional Republicans have not put forward any substantial plans to revitalize the country’s infrastructure. “They’re not against infrastructure, they’re against debt. But there needs to be a reprioritization--infrastructure needs to be a higher priority,” he says. Such spending, in Cornett’s view, could revitalize the national economy wherever projects were being implemented locally. “When you have a lot of construction going on, it sends a message of vitality that builds up consumer confidence. It gets people to spend money when they see that energy, that things are happening.” John Boehner has recently suggested that infrastructure investments could be one place for “some common ground” but hasn’t put forward any specific plans.

It’s not the first time that state and local-level Republicans have broken from the national Republican party line to ask for federal aid. In early 2010, 47 governors--including GOPers Bob McDonnell and Chris Christie--signed a letter asking for an extension of federal Medicaid spending under the stimulus. And after the debt-ceiling deal passed, the Republican mayor of Mesa, Ariz.--who’s also second vice-president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors--openly criticized the impact of draconian budget cuts and austerity on local governments.

Earlier this month, the leadership of the U.S. Conference of Mayors commended the Americans Jobs Act when the president first unveiled his proposal. In a statement, they called it a “true Main Street plan” that would “finally end our country’s economic paralysis, help the unemployed find jobs again and put our people back to work.” They singled out the president’s proposal to fund infrastructure spending, singling Obama’s support for a program created by the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act.

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