The AIA continues to push its role as advocate for smart planning and growth by backing a political advocacy platform, developed by Transportation for America, that calls for transportation policy coordination across local, state, and federal lines. Transportation for America, a coalition of mayors, cities, building industry associations and nonprofits, and others, wants transportation to support economic opportunity, climate stability, energy security, health, and housing and community development. With the Department of Transportation still holding more than $11.7 billion in stimulus funds, and with American infrastructure in a very poor way, the AIA sees this as a crucial time to speak up about the direction the country is heading in. "With the upcoming debate over federal transportation policy, we have a rare window of opportunity to not only make necessary improvements, but ensure that when we build, we build better: more transportation choices, livable communities, and sustainable public planning," said Paul Mendelsohn, AIA vice president of government and community relations, in a statement about the institute's support of Transportation for America. The key elements of Transportation for America's platform:
- Establish accountability for responsible investment
- Invest to compete in the 21st century
- Invest for multiple payoffs in solving energy, air quality, and climate challenges
- Reward and support smart local land-use planning
- Invest for public health and safety
- Find new ways to pay for what the country needs
What the coalition suggests and promotes is similar to the results of a study on the economic, environmental, and public health benefits of well-designed transportation projects that the AIA, in conjunction with the Center for Transportation Studies at the University of Minnesota, conducted in 2006. Almost 30 transportation projects were included in the study, which found, among other things, that involving all stakeholders and creating a unified plan was a key to success.
Saving Public Entitlements
Washington, we have a problem. It has long been discussed that Medicare and Social Security, along with other public entitlements, were running out of money. Although there have been plenty of projections to this effect, none has painted as stark a picture of the future of the entitlement programs as a recent report by the Social Security and Medicare Boards of Trustees does: Starting just eight years from now, Medicare will be unable to pay all of its bills. And by 2037, Social Security will be able to cover only three-quarters of all scheduled benefits.
As reported by The Washington Post on May 13, the White House contends that the best way to fix Medicare is to fix the entire healthcare system. President Barack Obama has put fixing healthcare at the top of his domestic policy agenda, and leaders of major healthcare companies are already making noises about being on board with the program. Late last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the issue would be debated on the House floor before Congress' August recess.