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Alesch: Forget Bailouts, Jumpstart the Alternative Energy Economy

Candidate for Congress Steve Alesch (Illinois-13th district) blasted the proposed bailout of banks and investment houses as a temporary, make-shift fix to a fundamentally broken economy.

“Bush’s answer to every major crisis for the past 7 years has been to borrow more money and drive up the national debt,” said Alesch, who is running under the Green Party banner. “This time, the problems go much deeper than any gimmick can fix. We need to rebuild the economy on real assets, not faulty loans.”

That means scrapping the president’s bailout and focusing instead on rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure.

“This country did not become great by bailing out risky investment schemes,” said Alesch. “We have larger goals that we need to work toward, like weaning off of fossil fuels by moving toward alternative
energy and sustainability. These are sound investments as well as job creators.”

By investing in the country’s alternative energy and sustainability infrastructure, Alesch said, Congress can turn a financial meltdown into an economic boom.

“We have a lot of the technology we need to get started. We have the brain power in this country — particularly in the 13th district — to develop better technology. We have the capital. We’ve got blue collar workers ready for better paying jobs,” said Alesch. “All that’s missing is the political will to make it happen.”

HYBRIDS

Federal tax credits for hybrids diminish over time, and rebates have expired or are about to expire on many popular models. For instance, rebates for the popular Honda Civic hybrids will expire at the end of
this year. Rebate amounts vary, but generally start from $2000-$3000 and begin to phase out when a manufacturer sells 60,000 vehicles.

“These programs have been successful in getting hybrids on the road, but we are nowhere near where we need to be,” said Alesch.

Alesch proposes extending the program until 55 percent of vehicles on the road are hybrids, which could reduce carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 20 percent by 2035, according to a study by  Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). While making hybrids more accessible, Alesch would push for higher CAFE standards — 60 mpg for cars and 45 mpg for light trucks by 2012.

Alesch would also favor higher rebates for cars assembled in the United States, saying: “It is fundamentally important that we reinvest in our economy, which means employing American workers.”

HOMES

Alesch would also extend and expand credits for a variety of energy-efficiency upgrades, including adding solar panels and solar heating, that expired last year for existing homes and will expire
this year for new homes. Though he does not support an expansion of off-shore drilling, Alesch supports the provisions in HR 6899, which recently passed the U.S. House, that would extend the credits through 2016 and double the solar rebate, adding that Congress should offer greater rebates for products manufactured in the United States.

“These technologies save consumers money, and they add value to a home,” said Alesch.

“By adding incentives for buying American-made products, we can protect workers and begin to rebuild the foundation for a strong economy.”

MASS TRANSIT

Alesch supports increasing federal funding for mass transit projects, giving them priority over new highway spending, noting that new highways, by spurring poorly planned housing developments, create new traffic jams rather than alleviate them.

“We must absolutely maintain the roads and bridges we have,” said Alesch. “But we cannot continue to build more and more new highways under the naive assumption that highways reduce traffic congestion. The surest way to reduce congestion is to improve and expand our mass transit infrastructure.””There are many people in the 13th district who would love to be able to take a Metra train to work, but for many, their options are limited,” said Alesch. “My opponent, Judy Biggert, has been busy creating the next Great Depression by deregulating the financial markets. She has overlooked mass transit as a major need of this district.”

With an ambitious program to build stalled projects, such as the proposed STAR Line, which would connect Joliet, Plainfield, Naperville, Aurora, Warrenville and other communities with O’Hare Airport, the country could take the next step in reducing its consumption of foreign oil.

Alesch said he would support the take over of the EJ&E railway by Canadian National, and said the squabbling could be solved with a serious commitment to upgrade crossings and noise abatement along the line, so residents can enjoy the benefits of mass transit while avoiding congestion on the roadways.

“If this were a highway, it would be done deal by now,” said Alesch. “Let’s get out of the highway mindset and shift our funding priorities to commonsense congestion-reducing rail projects.”

MORE INFORMATION AND SOURCES:

Steve Alesch for Congress: http://www.votesteve.org
Federal Hybrid Rebates: http://www.fueleconomy.gov/Feg/tax_hybrid.shtml
State Hybrid Rebates: http://afdc.energy.gov/afdc/progs/view_ind.php/IL/6326
MIT Study: http://news.cnet.com/8301-11128_3-9937326-54.html
H.R. 6899: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/vote.xpd?vote=h2008-599
Metra STAR Line: http://metraconnects.metrarail.com/star.php

Online version of this release: http://www.votesteve.org/media/20080924.shtml

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