Thursday, February 12, 2009

Bobcast: On the rural sidelines

Latest Bobcast is up. Listen here or read below.

Alabama’s governor said Wednesday the federal economic stimulus package has a distinct anti-rural flavor. Gov. Bob Riley believes the bill’s winners are urban areas; he singles out California and Illinois as hitting the mother lode.
Hey, who can blame any governor for wanting more federal bailout money?
Riley may be correct, though it’s far more difficult to verify his claim that the imbalance is due to the Obama administration paying off political allies.
If Riley’s claim is accurate, Oregon, a reliably blue state, has a right to complain that it gets more than a billion dollars less than deep-red Alabama, according to one state-by-state estimate.
But beyond this, there’s another explanation.
The money goes where the people are. Urban areas – long neglected by conservative federal governments and by definition places with large populations – have significant needs. Perhaps the most recent example of anti-urban bias in the previous administration is its failures in post-Katrina New Orleans.
Maybe Riley’s best strategy is to press Alabama’s Republican senators to get off the sidelines next time, and to start claiming a greater share of stimulus money for significant needs of rural areas.