Video: Mayors: Make economic development, not war
Saying that federal dollars are needed for job creation and economic development, the Washington-based U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) is calling for a speedier drawdown of troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. At the same time, USCM has released a report showing that, though job growth is slowly returning to pre-recession levels in some cities, it still will be several years before any real recovery begins.
The resolution on ending the wars and the U.S. Metro Economies report both were released as USCM held its 79th annual meeting in Baltimore. The findings in the Metro Economies report, in part, led to the call for a prompt ending to the nation’s military actions abroad. “We support our men and women in uniform, and these brave soldiers have served our country proudly,” Los Angeles Mayor and newly elected USCM President Antonio Villaraigosa said in his inaugural address during the conference. “Now, we must honor them by addressing our pressing needs at home by investing in our own economy and create jobs for them to come home to.”
The resolution calls for war dollars to instead be used to “promote job creation, rebuild America’s infrastructure, provide aid to municipal and state governments, and develop a new economy based upon renewable, sustainable energy, and reduce the federal debt.” It begins by stressing that USCM supports American troops, and that any drawdown be “done in a measured way that does not destabilize the region.”
The wording of the resolution was changed after Auburn, Wash., Mayor Peter Lewis raised concerns that it might have a deleterious effect on military morale. “I understand the vital need to redirect resources,” Lewis says. “But, making political statements in this forum about the war I do not believe is proper.”
The Metro Economies report underscores the need for job creation. Of the 363 metro areas in the report, 75 are expected to have double-digit unemployment rates by December, and 48 are not expected to return to peak employment until after 2020. On a brighter note, the report also anticipates that the nation’s gross domestic project will jump from a sluggish 1.9 percent growth during the first half of 2011 to 3.5 percent for the second half. And, it predicts that, by December 2014, more than half of metro areas will have returned to their previous peak employment level, assuming Congress extends the debt ceiling without any disruptions to the national and global systems.
Watch the video of the mayors’ debate over the war resolution below. Lewis’ initial call for the resolution to be pulled begins at the 1:30 mark, and debate on the resolution begins at 2:16.