The mayor of Iowa’s largest city says the economic stimulus package being developed by President-elect Obama and Democrats in Congress must go beyond business as usual. Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie endorsed Obama a few days before the 2008 Iowa Caucuses.
"I think it would be a huge mistake for us to invest dollars in the same way we did 30, 40, 50 years ago and use that to deliver the…old technology from the 20th Century and before," Cownie says. According to Cownie, the stimulus package needs to do more than create jobs — it must move the country in a new direction.
"A forward-thinking, green economy with green jobs and produce a 21st century economy and hope that the private sector will follow," Cownie says. The latest reports indicate Obama and his advisors are considering an 850-billion dollar stimulus package. Cownie hopes the money isn’t just distributed via federal agencies or allotted to the federal government. The Des Moines mayor says cities have already identified public works projects that could immediately be up and running.
"We can put it into the mix and be on the street, with construction within 90 days of receiving the OK to move forward," Cownie says. "In lots of other areas it doesn’t move forward quite as quickly so if they’re looking for stimulus, if they’re looking for return, we’re saying: ‘We’re way ready to go — we’re way ready to go — and we have projects that are ready to hit the ground running,’ so to speak."
According to Cownie, cities across the country have identified public works projects that would create just short of a million jobs by 2010. "Not only get people back to work, but getting them back to work doing the kind of work that will change the way we do business in our cities, in our businesses and in our residences across this country," Cownie says.
Cownie is among those mentioned as a possible candidate for Iowa’s third district congressional seat should Democratic Congressman Leonard Boswell of Des Moines not seek reelection. Cownie made his comments last week during a telephone conference call with reporters.