President-elect Barack Obama has promised $15 billion per year towards green infrastructure projects. While seemingly a large figure, it is a drop in the bucket, that will have little economic impact on the $14 trillion U.S. economy. And even though the Obama proposal will create 2.5 million green jobs within 5 years, that will do little to replace the 4 million lost manufacturing jobs since President Bush took office, or the 2 million jobs lost so far this year, or the who knows how many jobs that will be lost in 2009.
What is needed is a much larger investment in the Green economy, one that will create a new era of high paying middle class jobs, and an investment that strengthens the overall economy by reducing government budget deficits. An investment sufficient in size that will do more than simply stimulate consumption, or keep Green hopes alive, but an investment that will permanently transform the economy. And help America regain it’s economic, competitive, and technological advantage once again.
The following plan will inject $150 billion per year, ten times the amount Obama proposes, into the Green economy creating 25 million net jobs over the next 3-5 years, and reduces annual government deficits by $100 billion.
1. Double the gas tax and generate an additional $38 billion per year in federal revenue. The price of gas at the pump has dropped $1 per gallon over the last few weeks, and it appears it will continue to decline, consumers will not notice a 17.4 cent additional tax. $30 billion for Green and $8 billion toward budget reduction. And compared to gasoline taxes in Europe and other parts of the world, even with the increase, Americans would still be paying less tax for gasoline.
2. End the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. American taxpayers spent $188 billion in 2008 on two needless and unpopular wars. $100 billion to Green and $88 billion to budget reduction. Give all veterans free Green Job training, to avoid repeating the mistake of Vietnam, and flooding our streets and prisons with homeless vets.
3. Cut the prison population in half. As one of the impacts of out-sourced manufacturing jobs, the prison population has nearly doubled during the Bush administration. The nation spends $49 billion per year, to house and feed 2.3 million of our fellow citizens, up 76% from 1.3 million in 2000. Provide Green Job training in prisons, and as a diversion program for non-violent offenders, giving graduates the opportunity to work for the state installing a green infrastructure. $20 billion per year for Green and $4 billion in debt reduction.
Combined, this plan will generate $150 billion per year towards Green Jobs, and reduce budget deficits by $100 billion. Economist Robert Pollin, writing in The Nation magazine, estimates that 18 jobs are produced for every $1 million invested in green infrastructure. On the other hand, the military and oil industries, only produce 7.5 jobs for every $1 million spent.
A very important point, and a major difference with the Obama plan, is that this $150 billion plan actually reduces budget deficits. Obama’s Green Plan, and some say future trillion dollar stimulus package, are both paid for by increasing budget deficits. This places the value of the dollar at risk, which could easily lead to hyper-inflation, and much higher interest rates.
The effect of a massive $150 billion per year investment into the Green economy would result in 25 million new Green jobs. Jobs that strengthen the economy, environment, and society. Why settle for less?
Photo Credit: jimalone via Flickr’s Media Commons