Thinking Small

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Infrastructure is the word of the day:

President Obama called on lawmakers Monday to back an ambitious initiative to modernize the nation’s crumbling roads, railways and airports, saying the strategy would not only improve the economy in the long run but create good jobs now.

….The Rose Garden statement capped a series of White House activities intended to highlight Obama’s infrastructure initiative, unveiled a month ago as the White House came under increasing pressure to address unemployment before the Nov. 2 congressional elections. The proposal would create an infrastructure bank to prioritize projects of national importance and fund it with $50 billion generated by eliminating certain tax benefits for oil and gas companies.

Well, I’m all for this, but the effect would be so minuscule that it’s hard to get really excited about it. It’s fully funded, so it doesn’t really provide much in the way of stimulus. It works out to $8 billion per year, so it would have only a small effect on construction employment. And, as Annie Lowrey says, “Congress has proved intransigent.” So it’s unlikely to ever see the light of day.

We’re just stuck. It seems likely that the Fed is going to provide some additional quantitative easing in the near future, which will probably be helpful, but it would sure be a lot more helpful if it were matched by something serious on the fiscal side. Unfortunately, that wouldn’t be good for Republican electoral chances, so it’s not going to happen. Welcome to 1937.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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