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Tennessee Brings Back the WPA

Sarah's picture

Yeah, the NYT is reporting, but that doesn't invalidate the worth of the projects.

LINDEN, Tenn. — Critics elsewhere may be questioning how many jobs the stimulus program has created, but here in central Tennessee, hundreds of workers are again drawing paychecks after many months out of work, thanks to a novel use of federal stimulus money by state officials.

Tennessee's Democratic governor, Phil Bredesen, says he'd build a Works Progress Administration for his state

if he could.

“I really think the president is trying to do the right thing with the stimulus,” Mr. Bredesen said, “but so much of that stuff is kind of stratospheric. When you’ve got 27 percent unemployment, that is a full-fledged depression down in Perry County, and let’s just see if we can’t figure out how to do something that’s just much more on the ground and direct, that actually gets people jobs.”

Tennessee is planning to pay for most of the new jobs, which it expects will cost $3 million to $5 million, with part of its share of $5 billion that was included in the stimulus for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, the main cash welfare program for families with children. The state did not wait for the federal paperwork to clear before putting residents of Perry County back to work.

Other states are still drawing up plans for spending the welfare money, which is typically used for items like cash grants for families and job training. Some are likely to use part of it to subsidize employment, as Tennessee is doing, but it is hard to imagine many other places where the creation of so few jobs could have such an immediate and outsize impact as it did in this bucolic county.

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mass's picture
Submitted by mass on

I thought we should have done that nationally, so sounds pretty interesting.

Submitted by jawbone on

something like this.

Oh, that's right. It was suggested and taken off the table.

Damn minimalism. Can't get anything on the table we DFHs like.

Sarah, thanks for the nice news round ups. The bike law thing is, well, stunning. Too bad he didn't do some obvious stuff like the do here in NJ....

cal1942's picture
Submitted by cal1942 on

It was even actually done before.

But after all we must remember that we non-Obama types just aren't intellectually capable of seeing the wisdom of NOT trying to create as many jobs as possible in an economy severely weakened by job losses.

Damon's picture
Submitted by Damon on

It's been a criticism from the start, but a true one for the most part, that quite a great deal of the stimulus is going right over the heads of those who need it the most, and by that I mean not going as directly as it should to put people to work.

For instance, the direct unemployment rate of Detroit proper here in Michigan is not too much further than that of Perry County, TN at 22%. The suburban rate isn't much better, these days. The city is in great need of a comprehensive greening and clean-up and I don't see why something like The Greening of Detroit, which plants trees and vegetation throughout the city as well as helping maintain forgotten parks, couldn't have been worked into the stimulus to put massive amounts of Detroiters directly to work in beautifying their city, which would cut down, automatically, on quite a few social ills.