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CNU XV Blog, Part 14: Politics at the Plenary | Congress for the New Urbanism

CNU XV Blog, Part 14: Politics at the Plenary

MLewyn's picture

The plenary session Saturday night was devoted to national politics, both British and American.

John Prescott, the British deputy prime minister, spoke about the United Kingdom's progress in promoting urbanism and reducing greenhouse emissions. According to Prescott, Britian has reduced emissions while experiencing rapid economic growth in recent years. Sounds good- but I can't help wondering whether representatives of British opposition parties would agree with Prescott's rosy scenario.

Barney Frank asserted that New Urbanists should favor higher taxes, ending the war in Iraq, and Democratic candidates. He reasoned that government cannot afford the war in Iraq, tax cuts, AND government programs that New Urbanists like such as public transit.

If the federal government had to live within its means, Frank might be right. But in the real world of the Bush Adminstration, the federal government has increased support for public transit AND a wide variety of other domestic programs while throwing money into Iraq. Why? Because as long as borrow-and-spend economics is popular, government can and does fund everything. (Of course, this might not be good economic policy in the long run ... but that's another conversation!)

Moreover, a more liberal government does not necessarily mean more spending for pro-smart growth policies. Just as a conservative government might defund public transit or HOPE VI to fund war in Iraq, a liberal government might be tempted to do so in order to fund national health insurance or expanded education spending.

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