Here’s the WSJ on a proposal from Sen. Chris Dodd and others to “throw a $2 billion lifeline to struggling public transit systems in New York and other big cities.”
The bill, introduced with the support of seven Democratic co-sponsors including Sen. Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) and lawmakers from New Jersey, Ohio and Illinois, would allow transit agencies nationwide to use federal money to reduce fares and restore service cuts made after January of last year. The proposal’s prospects aren’t clear at a time when Congress is under pressure to cut federal spending.
It’s nice to know that the American Public Transportation Association thinks public transportation systems should get more government funding, and that an MTA spokesman in New York says, “We hope it passes.” But the proposal’s prospects aren’t clear? Could we get a bit more on that, please? Is there even a chance this thing gets a vote?
Second, it’s important to underscore the point that Harold Meyerson makes in his column today.
Of all the gaps between elite and mass opinion in America today, perhaps the greatest is this: The elites don’t really believe we’re still in recession. Or maybe, they just don’t care.
How else to explain the continual harping on the deficit by editorialists, centrist think tanks and the like when the nation is still enmeshed in the most serious economic downturn since the 1930s? How else to understand the growing opposition to the jobs bills Congress is set to vote on this week, particularly when nobody has identified any future engine of American economic growth save countercyclical public investment?
Meyerson is good to use poll data to support his point. And it’s pretty compelling.
While concern about the deficit does register in polls, it’s nowhere near the top of the list. Instead, it’s jobs. A Fox News poll this month found that 47 percent were concerned with the economy and jobs, versus 15 percent who worry about the deficit and spending. He’s got more numbers like that, and scary stuff on public anxiety over the job market.
That’s a real disconnect, and one that the business press needs to address. Meyerson charts a good course:
Those who oppose the jobs bills in the House and Senate this week should be compelled to answer some questions, starting with: Absent more stimulus, what do they see as the plausible engine of economic recovery? What effect will laying off as many as 300,000 teachers have on the education of American children? And, more elementally, don’t they know there’s a recession on?