For the week of July 6 to July 12, the administration spent a great deal of time on health care reform which gives them an automatic D as their lowest possible grade. For the first week in July right after the holiday the administration accomplished a great deal. There are a few things that they get points off for this week including the release of the flawed report assessing the number of homeless people. We complain about this every year, but that was a previous administration which never really paid attention to domestic issues. The HUD report is based on flawed data with so many caveats that it is basically useless. There was a great deal of discussion about the flu pandemic, but nothing about how low income or poor people would deal with an epidemic.
The good things that happened this week include:
- The President gave a jobs speech in his weekly radio address. This is the key to our future, and the administration needs to spend more time on creating jobs.
- The Administration released another "recovery in action" blog entry highlighting how the stimulus dollars are being used. Most were transportation or transit programs, but it is good to see these stories laid out.
- The Vice President's wife who works as a professor at a Community College, championed higher education and pushed for an expansion of funding for community colleges. She introduced a goal that the United States would have the largest per capita population by 2020 in the world. Right now the U.S. is tenth or eleventh in the industrial world in percentage of citizens obtaining a higher education degree.
- Hospitals agreed to give up $155 billion to make the health reform system work.
- HUD made available an additional 2,500 family unification housing vouchers for the United States. Yes, this is a drop in the bucket but they get some credit.
- The administration has worked to develop a Declassification Center in order to attempt to set a standard for releasing public documents. Again, transparency from government always gets additional points.
- Along with the hospital initiative, there was a roundtable by VP Joe Biden and HHS Kathleen Sibelius on the problems with the current health insurance system and the impact on small businesses.
- HHS released a small grant request for $40 million to help local communities expand child healthcare programs.
- The preservation relief act (HR 2887) was introduced. This bill would use tax credits to try to expand affordable housing options in the United States.
- Finally, there was an attempt to reduce the number of new housing vouchers in a bill to reform. The bill would have effectively gutted the effort to expand affordable housing, but lost on a mostly party line vote.
Weekly Grades of the Administration on Poverty: C
Such a good week last week, but the week of July 13 to July 19 there was a lot of talk, but very little action. There was more on health care so they get up to a D, but not a lot of other items tackled this week. Cabinet Secretary Gary Locke volunteered in a homeless shelter in Arizona. The President focused his weekly radio address on health care urging law makers not to wait anymore. Biden and Sibelius were also out stumping for health care reform on the Sunday talk shows and a forum on reform for senior citizens. There was a new Surgeon General introduced this week who was an inspiration to all women. Alabama's Regina Benjamin has run a rural health clinic for years, and had to rebuild the facility three times due to natural disasters and fire.
The President talked to the kickoff of the 100th anniversary of the NAACP and hit all the right notes. He talked about housing issues, and that there are too many people incarcerated in the U.S. Obama was clear that discrimination had not ended and included discrimination of all minorities including gays and lesbians. The President also went to the hardest hit state in the union, Michigan to talk about the push for more community college funding. He was bold in saying that some of the manufacturing jobs will not be coming back, and urged the citizens of Michigan to look elsewhere. Economic recovery advisory, Lawrence Summer delivered an important speech about the state of the U.S. economy. He said that the worst is behind us and we are on a good path toward recovery. I am not sure if I believe this, but if the administration keeps saying this it may boost confidence.
There were additional maps added to recovery.gov site to make it easier to navigate. From the map it looks like only two companies have benefited from the stimulus dollars in Northeast Ohio. Finally, a new direction was announced in the administration's urban agenda. The domestic policy group met to discuss the urban agenda, and announced that various cabinet secretaries would tour the country looking for innovation and any where that government is slowing innovation. They will start in Philadelphia, Denver and Kansas City. Overall a C for the week.
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