Roland Martin and Washington Watch travel to Atlanta, Georgia to talk with Mayor Kasim Reed about how important to jobs bill is to his city.
MR. MARTIN: Mayor Kasim Reed, Pres. Barack Obama has been really pushing hard his jobs bill. It’s being held up, obviously, in Congress. Republicans don’t want to move forward in the House. Some Democrats have some issues when it comes to the millionaire tax in the Senate. From a mayor’s perspective, how important is this jobs bill when it comes to the unemployment rate in your city?
MAYOR KASIM REED: It’s essential, and it shows the difference between Washington and running a major city. Mayors have to do things – make budget, meet payroll every day, deal with potholes, deal with real issues every day; and I think it shows the distance between Washington, D.C., and running a major city, where every, single day you have to be accountable.
MR. MARTIN: Now, in the first stimulus bill, a lot – most of that money went to the states; so, therefore, it went through the governors’ offices.
MAYOR REED: Sure.
MR. MARTIN: Mayors like yourself tried to tell the Administration then, “Bad idea. You need to send [it] directly to the cities, because we have, first of all, much stronger MWBE programs.”
MAYOR REED: Yes.
MR. MARTIN: “We have a much different reaction when it comes to folks when it comes to doing jobs.”
MAYOR REED: We also –
MR. MARTIN: — time –
MAYOR REED: — happen to be more supportive of the President.
MR. MARTIN: — well, this time, with this bill, the White House says they’re going to do a lot more direct action with cities.
MAYOR REED: Well, I think that’s a good sign, Roland. I think it shows that they listen. We were – they were in an extraordinarily difficult time. They made the best judgment at the time. The money did not flow as fast as it would have, because we can deploy money faster at the municipal level than they can at the state level, and we’re used to handling complex projects. I’m responsible for the busiest passenger airport in the world, so I can take the Atlanta streetcar, which the President funded, get it, bid it out in a way that’s inclusive faster than you can at the state level or in Washington.
I think the President heard that. They listened to, you know, the traditional people on the first time; but I think they’re listening on the second time. so, I think it’s growth.
MR. MARTIN: What would you advice him in terms of trying to navigate the gridlock in D.C., where Republicans simply are saying, “No,” “No,” “No”? I mean what would you say to him to get this over the hump? Because it seems they don’t want anything that has his name attached to it.
MAYOR REED: I think I would tell him, “Don’t get tired.” I think that when you’re making a constant case about why this is so needed, and you hear yourself 50 times, you can start to believe that people don’t w ant to hear you. That’s not true. There’s a reason they call repetition “repetition” – because it helps people remember things. And he’s got to stay on it. He can’t let Republican intransigence cause him to get tired, because the American people agree wit him.
So, I think just in the case with the negotiation around the debt ceiling, the American people agree with him. “Don’t get tired, and stop listening to the echo changer [sic] from the far right of the United States of America,” because they pound their message again and again and –
MR. MARTIN: Right.
MAYOR REED: — again. So, you just have to stay out here with yours.
MR. MARTIN: [Crosstalk]- —
MAYOR REED: You can’t get tired. And don’t believe – people understand and hear it.
MR. MARTIN: And he’s traveling around the country. I mean he was in Dallas – the Dallas area this week. He’s going to be going to North Carolina and Virginia. And so being on the road, taking the message on the road directly to the voters – that, to me, I think, is a – is a – obviously, a smart message because – look. You’ve got to be outside of Washington, D.C. And so – do you also think, though, he should be going to those red states? Georgia’s a red state. Going to Mississippi and Alabama, saying, “You’re some of the poorest in America” –
MAYOR REED: You’re right.
MR. MARTIN: — “and where are your folks helping you?”
MAYOR REED: There’s no question he should be going to these states, and he also needs to hold people accountable that they funded the original stimulus money, too. I mean there’s 300 billion that did go out, where government officials made a promise that we were gonna get these projects out, and that money is not flowing.
If I were in the position of advising the President, I would tell him to hold those individuals accountable and find out where those dollars are, and really cause those folks to push them out – ‘cause that’s a promise they made to the United States of America. When you applied for stimulus American Recovery and Reinvestment Funds, you gave the United States of America a time certain for pushing those dollars into the economy. You knew it when you took the deal. And I don’t believe that the President and his administration is doing the job of holding those individuals accountable for more than $300 billion that should be flowing through the economy, and those projects aren’t moving fast enough.
[The] President made a joke about it. He said that the projects that were supposed to be “shovel-ready” weren’t shovel-ready. Well, I would change that joke, and I would start calling the individuals that told me that they had a project that was “shovel-ready” and ask why the shovel isn’t moving, and hold them accountable to push those dollars out. Roland, that money has been voted on and deployed, so it’s not like the new jobs recovery bill, where you have to get it through. Folks raised their ha- — rose [sic] their hand and made a promise to the United States of America that they were going to push those dollars out. And there’re a ton of excuses being used as to why these projects aren’t moving, and I think that the White House needs to be a bit tougher in that regard.
MR. MARTIN: All right. Well, Mayor Reed, always have a – always a pleasure having you on –
MAYOR REED: Well, I’m –
MR. MARTIN: — “Washington Watch.”
MAYOR REED: — always glad. I’m glad you’re in Atlanta this day. So, a shoutout for Roland for coming to the city –
MR. MARTIN: [Chuckles.]
MAYOR REED: — of Atlanta.
MR. MARTIN: Always enjoy coming here.
MAYOR REED: Thank you.
MR. MARTIN: I appreciate it.