Office of Intergovernmental Affairs Blog

  • More State and Local Officials Join the Call for Compromise

    Earlier, over 100 state and local officials added their voices to the growing chorus urging Congress to compromise on behalf of the American people and to remove the cloud of uncertainty that currently hangs over our economy. 

    Since then we’ve heard from 50 more officials urging Congress to do their job before August 2.

    Kyrsten Sinema, Arizona State Senator:

    “Rather than finding compromise for the sake of American families, the U.S. House GOP continues to squabble our tax dollars on political poker. The Boehner bill will leave a cloud of uncertainty hanging over our economy – something we can’t afford during such tough times. It would hurt our country’s ability to grow business, and it would shed even more jobs.  The time for compromise on behalf of the American people is now. It is time to unite and conquer for the sake of the future of our country.” [7/29/2011]

    Letter to Congressional Leaders from 37 Florida mayors:

    “To protect our citizens from further financial hardship, we urge you to support a balanced approach to raising the debt ceiling. Reasonable cuts to domestic spending, combined with the elimination of some tax loopholes for the wealthiest Americans and largest corporations, is the most responsible way to preserve our economic security and promote future growth.” [Signed 7/29/2011]

  • Deficit Crisis: State and Local Officials Call for a Balanced Approach

    On Monday evening, President Obama delivered an address to the nation on the consequences the stalemate in Congress could have on the stability of our economy. Here is what a bipartisan sampling of Governors and Mayors from across the country are saying:

    “We hope that at the end of the day, both sides come together and recognize that there does need to be a balanced approach, because a balanced approach is what solves the problem. The reality is the Republicans aren’t going to get 100 percent of what they want and the Democrats aren’t going to get 100 percent of what they want.” – Mayor Scott Smith, Mesa, AZ

    “Last night, President Obama once again demonstrated that he clearly understands that the key to winning the future includes a renewed commitment to fiscal responsibility. New Orleanians and residents in cities across our country can’t afford to let the partisan politics of Washington, D.C., dictate whether or not the United States meets its financial obligations and whether we can meet the needs of the future.  We in New Orleans certainly cannot afford the consequences of a downgraded credit rating or government shutdown if the country defaults on its debt.” – Mayor Mitch Landrieu, New Orleans, LA

  • Nation’s Mayors Urge Congress to Raise the Debt Ceiling

    With ten days left before the looming Congressional deadline to raise the debt ceiling, I am hosting a gathering of fifty of the nation’s mayors in Los Angeles over the next two days, to urge Congress to reach an agreement on the debt limit to prevent default and ask them to invest in job creating programs.
    Default will have an immediate and catastrophic impact on our cities, the implications are global, and economists agree. A credit downgrade will plunge us into a deep, double-dip recession. We urge Congressional leaders to act now.
    The Congressional Research Service has estimated that if the debt ceiling is not increased, “the federal government would have to eliminate all spending on discretionary programs.”  That means every federal payment to cities will stop, either immediately or shortly after default. The cuts would eliminate support for critical local programs including housing and community development, CDBG, COPS, Homeland Security, job training, and transportation infrastructure. This would have a crippling effect on our cities and on our people.
    Additionally, local governments would also be prevented from issuing tax-exempt bonds. And cuts in Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security would take billions more out of local economies.
    Mayors understand that raising the debt ceiling isn't a partisan issue. The debt ceiling was raised 17 times under President Reagan, 4 times under President Clinton, 7 times under President George W. Bush, and has been raised 3 times under President Obama.

  • County Officials and Tough Choices

    Earlier this week, I visited Portland in Multnomah County, Oregon, for the National Association of Counties (NACo) Annual Conference, a gathering of 2,000 county leaders from across the country.  I met with dozens of county leaders, and was once again reminded of the conviction and guts that America’s local officials demonstrate each and every day in their jobs.

    America’s county leaders are rightly proud of what they do.  Their decisions have a direct impact on some of the most vulnerable in our society, including seniors and people living with disabilities.  They manage some of our most basic services, often running the county hospitals, managing the jails, and directing local law enforcement efforts.  In all of these areas, especially in these tough times, these county officials are being forced to make tough choices, explain their actions to the public, and then move on to the next difficult issue.

    They compared the choices we face in Washington to their own challenges, and emphasized that in their worlds, taking a balanced approach to any budget discussion is absolutely critical.  Here are some specific thoughts from some of these county officials on the ongoing debt negotiations:

    Commissioner Sally Heyman from Miami-Dade County, FL
    “Resolving the national deficit with a balanced approach should not be partisan-driven, but practicality-driven.  Then the President and Congress can refocus attention on the other pressing and important issues.”

    Supervisor Valerie Brown from Sonoma County, CA
    “The majority of our health and human services rely on federal funding... it is time for Congress to work together as counties do every day for their constituents.”

  • Increasing Exports Will Help Create the Jobs of the Future

    Francisco Sanchez

    Under Secretary for International Trade at the U.S. Department of Commerce, Francisco J. Sánchez.

    This week I had the opportunity to talk to a large number of elected and appointed county officials from across the country who gathered in Portland, Oregon for the 76th National Association of Counties Annual Meeting.

    The message I brought to them is that we can work together to accelerate the growth of exports and the American jobs they support. I believe that strengthening our partnerships will help us to create the jobs of the future.

    In his 2010 State of the Union, President Obama announced his National Export Initiative, or NEI, which mobilizes departments throughout the federal government to double U.S. exports by the end of 2014 supporting several million jobs.  Solidifying our partnerships will help us achieve this goal. Partnering with the more than 3,000 counties across the country can grow their economies and create jobs through the NEI.

  • Partnering with Communities for Economic Growth

    Next week, I’ll participate in the 2011 Annual Conference of the National Association of Counties(NACo) with partners from across the Administration. 

    The timing is bittersweet for me, as I prepare to return to Seattle after more than two years as Deputy Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. But this conference reminds me how far we’ve come since I first spoke to NACo two years ago – and the steps we’ve taken to help cities and regions tackle common challenges together. 

    Having served as King County Executive in Washington for a dozen years before coming to HUD, I knew all too well that the Federal government wasn’t usually part of that conversation. And when it was, the Federal government was more often a barrier to progress than the kind of partner we needed. 

    In King County, we created a regional affordable housing program, one of our nation’s first regional climate plans, and established light rail service that connected some of the most distressed areas of Greater Seattle.  Virtually on our own, we turned into the kind of thriving metropolitan region we need to win the future. 

    Unfortunately, without a federal partner to help places facing similar challenges cut through the red tape and leverage private investment, the kinds of turnarounds we’ve seen in Seattle or Boston or Pittsburgh have been all too rare. 

    But because of President Obama, Secretary Donovan and leaders throughout this Administration, that’s beginning to change. They realize that our metros produce over 80 percent of the nation’s patents and exports, where 90 cents out of every dollar America produces come from, and where more than 8-in-10 residents live. And they know competitors like China and India realize it, too.