State of the President: Still green

Click the map for a larger pdf version.

Click the map for a larger pdf version.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. And in this case, that’s a good thing. In spite of shifting rhetoric, in spite of the changing hues on the shimmering surface of politics, Obama’s first initiative after his 2010 State of the Union Address will show he’s the same Obama who took office a year ago.

Tonight’s State of the Union address is expected to feature a new emphasis on deficit reduction, along with a not-so new emphasis on job creation.

But the first initiative of his second year is an $8 billion high-speed rail initiative, which he bills not only as an effort to bring American transportation into the 20th Century (yes, I do mean 20th), but also as a jobs creation program.

While the Works Progress Administration built sidewalks, bridges, and red-brick universities in Depression-era America, the Obama Administration is investing in recovery through green public works. Amid all the predictions that a lost Senate seat in Massachusetts would see him shift to the right, this train is heading in the same direction as ever.

The Associated Press reported the high-speed rail announcement this morning, and the report must have been solid, because the White House Press Office rebroadcast it by email to the press corps.

The high speed rail network will be developed in 13 regions, linking 31 states. And it’s not new. The $8 billion was set aside in the stimulus package passed nearly a year ago. In the last year its fortunes have seemed to flag as attention focused elsewhere—namely on the health care and climate bills—but Obama’s high-level attention to high-speed rail “at this defining moment” shows we’re still operating with the same definition.

Obama still believes he can revive the economy and improve the future by rebuilding America greener. Now we just need the rest of America to hop on board, and we’ll finally be liberated from our patchwork system of flagging passenger lines operating on rails designed to bring cattle to market in the 19th Century.

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