The American Jobs Act Invests in Our Students

Jay Chung, a Philadelphia music teacher, says that we need the American Jobs Act because it invests in our schools and our student’s futures.

Chung is responsible for music classes at seven different schools in the Philadelphia school district. He travels from school to school, teaching percussion classes using plastic buckets from Home Depot, which he’s found is the best way to stretch his meager $100 budget.

Like teachers here in New Mexico, Jay Chung needs the American Jobs Act to invest in our schools. Watch him discuss his unique program and explain how the American Jobs Act will help our nation’s students and their schools in this video from the Department of Education.

We can’t wait to rebuild American education. There’s more online on how the American Jobs Act will invest in New Mexico and the rest of our nation. Click here to see how it helps you.

Doña Ana County Awarded a Major Federal Sustainability Grant

Doña Ana County is one of 29 communities nationally to win a Federal Housing and Urban Development sustainability challenge grant, the Obama Administration announced on Tuesday. The $2 Million dollar grant will be administered by core partners in the County including New Mexico State University, the City of Las Cruces, the Colonias Development Council, and Tierra del Sol Housing corporation, among others. The Doña Ana County grant will bring new economic development opportunities to the area while preserving the historical settlement pattern of Camino Real.

All across the country, thousands of Americans spend a great amount of time commuting to their jobs. This is precious time that could be spent with their families and not sitting in traffic.  As our families grow and our lives get busier, living close to work becomes vital to our quality of life. We are constantly looking for a better solution, something to make things just a little bit easier.

Now, thanks to nearly $96 million in Sustainable Communities Awards announced this week, 27 communities and 29 regions across the country, including residents of Doña Ana County, will be able to establish a more livable, equitable, and economically competitive future. These funds, awarded to two grant programs, are poised to help change the face of communities across the country.

The Community Challenge Grants aim to reform and reduce barriers to achieving affordable, economically vital and sustainable communities. Awarded to large and small communities, these funds will help address local challenges to integrating transportation and housing. Funds awarded to communities may also be used to retrofit main streets to provide safer routes for children and seniors and to preserve affordable housing and local businesses near new transit stations.

The Regional Planning Grants allows grantees to support efforts that integrate housing, land-use, economic and workforce development, transportation, and infrastructure developments. This will empower regions to consider how all of these factors work together to create more jobs and economic opportunities.

As a direct result of this funding thousands of jobs will be created and will impact the lives of 45.8 million Americans, including here in southern New Mexico. The full details of the Grant are below:

Doña Ana County will be awarded $2,000,000 to develop the Camino Real: Regional Plan for Sustainable Development. Through grouping the work into 6 component areas, Doña Ana County hopes to bring new economic development opportunities to the area while preserving the historical settlement pattern of Camino Real. The plan will integrate housing and transportation planning to minimize vehicle miles traveled, and explore innovative ride-sharing and public transit options. The plan will provide a rationale for capital spending decisions so that infrastructure resources that permit higher residential densities are combined in ways that protect existing traditional communities and agricultural lands while encouraging growth patterns that support public transit options. In doing so, this project will build local capacity to plan, promote community engagement and support a more sustainable future.

Anticipated Project Benefits: 

    • Establishment of coordinated intergovernmental planning and secure agreements
    • Alignment of infrastructure investment to ensure equitable land use planning
    • Identification of measures to track progress in the creation of sustainable communities
    • Engagement in site-specific planning and design of capital projects or programs

Funding Amount:  $2,000,000

Core Partners: City of Las Cruces, New Mexico State University, South Central Council of Governments, Las Cruces Metropolitan Planning Organization, El Paso Metropolitan Planning Organization, Colonias Development Council, Tierra del Sol Housing corporation.

Read a complete summary of each grant awarded funding on Tuesday.

President Obama Talks About the Failure of Congress, Taxes, Jobs

President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the American Jobs Act at Manchester Central High School, Manchester, New Hampshire, Nov. 22, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

With the failure of Congress to act responsibly, in 40 days, our taxes will go up — unless Congress steps in to change that. And speaking from New Hampshire yesterday, President Obama talked about that situation:

“[Last] year, both parties came together to cut payroll taxes for the typical household by $1,000 this year. That’s been showing up in your paychecks each week. You may not know it, but it’s been showing up because of the action that we took. Which reminds me, by the way, the next time you hear one of these folks from the other side coming in talking about raising your taxes, you just remind them that ever since I’ve gotten into office, I’ve lowered your taxes, haven’t raised them. That’s worth reminding them. But this payroll tax is set to expire at the end of next month. End of next month, end of the year, this tax cut ends. And if we allow that to happen -– if Congress refuses to act -– then middle-class families are going to get hit with a tax increase at the worst possible time. For the average family, your taxes will go up $1,000 if Congress does not act by the end of the month.

“Now, we can’t let that happen. Not right now. It would be bad for the economy. It would be bad for employment.”

The American Jobs Act, the President said, actually does one better. It expands expands the tax cut for individuals and cuts payroll taxes for small business owners:

“Instead of a $1,000-a-year tax cut next year, the average working family would get a tax cut of more than $1,500. And that’s $1,500 that would have been taken out of your paycheck, would instead be going into your pocket. And that means you’d be spending in small businesses, and that would increase their business, which means they would potentially hire more people.

“The American Jobs Act would also cut payroll taxes in half for small business owners.  Say you have 50 employees making $50,000 apiece. You’d get a tax cut of nearly $80,000. That is real money that you can use to hire new workers or buy new equipment.”

When Congress takes up this issue after the holiday, the President said, lawmakers have a choice:
“Do you want to cut taxes for the middle class and those who are trying to get into the middle class?  Or do you want to protect massive tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires, many of whom want to actually help?  Do you want to help working families get back on solid ground and grow this economy for all of us?  Or do you really want to vote to raise taxes on nearly 160 million Americans during the holidays?  When push comes to shove, are you willing to fight as hard for working families as you are for the wealthiest Americans?  What’s it going to be?  That’s the choice.”

Read the full remarks here.  Or check out our calculator to learn what Congressional inaction means for your family.

Donna Brazile: “On foreign policy, Obama trounces GOP rivals”

Democratic National Committee vice chair Donna Brazile has an op-ed on slamming the Republican presidential candidates for “taking any position that will distance them from the president and allow them to sound tough”—regardless of whether their positions put them out of step with military leaders and nonpartisan national security efforts.”The lack of knowledge or experience hasn’t stopped Republicans from falling into a familiar habit: opposition for the sake of opposition. If Obama favors something, Republicans almost certainly oppose it” Donna Brazile said.

Brazile writes, “Expect lots of bluster and loose talk at Tuesday’s debate, the sort that brought us the Iraq war earlier this century while the search for Osama bin Laden was essentially called off. Then compare it to the pragmatic, effective approach of Obama and his list of accomplishments. It’s clear who should be on the receiving end of the 3 a.m. phone call.”