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Barack Obama

Not a Word About Transit in Obama Jobs Plan

President Obama released a blueprint for his second term yesterday, a 20-page booklet focused on job creation [PDF]. Let's be clear: This came from his campaign machine, not the White House.

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In the booklet, called "The New Economic Patriotism: A Plan For Jobs and Middle-Class Security," Obama touts his success at keeping the American auto industry alive through government life support, saying the bailout brought back the nearly-extinct manufacturing sector in the United States.

He also commits to drilling in the Arctic and the Gulf of Mexico. Yes, it's part of Obama's "all of the above" strategy that includes renewable energy sources, but it's also got a lot of oil and gas, not to mention "clean" coal.

While about 70 percent of U.S. oil consumption is used for transportation, there's not much in the document about investing in smarter, more efficient ways to get around.

The President mentions the doubling of fuel economy standards to 54.5 mpg by 2025, but that's all he has to say about how to reduce fuel consumption. It would be refreshing to see a mention of transit and active transportation, freight rail, or even his apparently abandoned signature initiative around high-speed passenger rail. Reducing the appetite for drilling in the Arctic could be a more inspiring rallying cry than this surrender to our oil overlords.

At the end of the section on energy, in boldface, Obama says, "And by growing American energy, we can keep our young men and women working here at home, not fighting wars on foreign soil." If he'd replaced -- or at least supplemented -- "growing American energy" with "building American transit," he could have made a more convincing and coherent argument.

Later in the document, in a section on deficit reduction, Obama proposes to "commit half of the money saved from responsibly ending wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to reducing the deficit and the other half to putting Americans back to work rebuilding roads, bridges, runways, and schools here in the United States." Still no mention of "transit" amidst the roads and bridges. No hint that we can fund transportation projects that use space and energy more efficiently, so that perhaps we can avoid the next war over oil.

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