Pres. Obama stresses importance of nationwide broadband, generating jobs & economic growth

By Jon H. Harsch

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

Washington, July 2 – Flanked by Agriculture Sec. Tom Vilsack and Commerce Sec. Gary Locke, President Obama announced Friday that “the Departments of Commerce and Agriculture will invest in 66 new projects across America that will finally bring reliable broadband Internet service to communities that currently have little or no access.”

Obama said “In the short term, we expect these projects to create about 5,000 construction and installation jobs around the country. And once we emerge from the immediate crisis, the long-term economic gains to communities that have been left behind in the digital age will be immeasurable.” He predicted that overall. “these investments will benefit tens of millions of Americans – more than 685,000 businesses, 900 health care facilities, and 2,400 schools across the country.”

Pointing to benefits from bioenergy to biopsies, the President explained that “studies have shown that when communities adopt broadband access, it can lead to hundreds of thousands of new jobs. Broadband can remove geographic barriers between patients and their doctors. It can connect our kids to the digital skills and 21st century education required for the jobs of the future. And it can prepare America to run on clean energy by helping us upgrade to a smarter, stronger, more secure electrical grid.”

With $780 million in new federal grants and loans for broadband projects matched by over $200 million in private investment, Sec. Vilsack said “The broadband projects announced today will give rural communities access to the tools they need to create jobs, stimulate local economies, and build a foundation for future prosperity.”

Meanwhile, in a Joint Economic Committee hearing Friday, Chair Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) clashed over the jobs issue. According to Congresswoman Maloney “the June job numbers show that the labor market continues to recover, though more slowly than we would like. The economy has added private sector jobs every month during the first half of 2010 and almost 600,000 private sector jobs have been created since the beginning of the year. . . The sixth straight month of employment gains in the private sector . . . We are trending in the right direction and we are gaining private sector jobs.” Pointing to the chart shown below, she concluded that “We have made real progress in the last year.” She said “The policies that Democrats quickly put in place over the last year are working.”

Congressman Brady saw Friday's jobs report very differently. He said in the hearing that the report showing an overall decrease in jobs, due to the termination of 225,000 temporary Census Bureau jobs “is more disappointing news for American workers and their families. . . private sector jobs growth remains anaemic at 83,000. . . Americans don't see an economy in recovery. They see a White House seemingly incapable of protecting our beaches or getting people back to work. . . President Obama and congressional Democrats have pursued largely anti-growth policies that have hindered this recovery. Businesses are slow to hire because they fear higher taxes, job-killing regulation, and a dysfunctional Washington that is ideologically driven and increasingly anti-business.”


For details of the 37 latest USDA awards for last-mile broadband projects, go to:

For Agri-Pulse coverage of total broadband projects under way and their impact, go to:

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