tv Meet the Presss Press Pass NBC January 22, 2012 11:30am-11:45am EST
>> i'm david gregory. this is "press pass" your all-access pass as to what's driving washington this week. we have a special conversation with two of the country's prominent mayors. michael nutter of philadelphia and washington's own vincent gray here to bring national attention to the challenges facing our cities during a difficult political season the mayors felt the impact at home as philadelphia and d.c. face tough budget cuts and the search for jobs. they were both outspoken obama supporters in 2008 but has the president done enough for his
urban base in the? let's start locally here. we'll ask you generally as part of the u.s. conference of mayors you're here in washington, what's the big ask on behalf of the u.s. conference of mayors of the federal government? >> i think the big ask is to listen to cities more and do more for our cities. we've got great needs. we're a big part of the gdp in this nation. we all have huge unemployment problems. we need help from the federal government to get our people back to work. we need infrastructure investments. this nation has 70,000 bridges that have one or another kind of deficiency. investing in bridges would put people back to work and get hardcore unemployed immediately to work and we begin to relieve some of the problems we see. >> you follow the politics here. mayor nutter, you do as well. you understand that there are limits to what the obama administration is able to do whether it is infrastructure or whether it is the social safety
net. a major stimulus plan. there's been other things. he's dealing with a congress that says less government and not more government. >> helping cities, helping us do our jobs is what will help america. 80% of the population lives in the city. 85% of the jobs are in cities and metro areas and as mayor gray said 90% of the gross domestic product is in cities and metro areas. it only makes sense to invest in that 90% because that's where you get your biggest return. unemployment rate in our cities will only come down as not only the national unemployment rate comes down but also targeted strategic investment in cities to get things done. the real question is what is congress doing or what do they think they're doing when millions of americans are out of work, bridges, roads, highways, schools, waterfront, airports, job creators. we know this. a nonpartisan issue for 50 years.
>> what specifically in your city would you like to see done that congress could approve sooner rather than later? >> huge project for us is seven miles of waterfront on the delaware that extends from below center city up through the northeast. that would revitalize not only that part of the city but a major attraction all across the region. it will put thousands and thousands of people to work. we used federal dollars to do any number of projects whether it's computing centers to freedom rings partnership, we used our funding for that. the program that is being cut represents jobs and economic opportunity in cities all across america. the most direct flexible funding that the federal government provides. you can't just run the country based on philosophy. millions of americans are out of work. what is congress doing about that? >> mayor gray, as a d.c. resident, i have a sense of unlike a lot of parts of the country the housing market is more stable here because of the federal government in large part. as we look at longer term trends and people who are unemployed
and maybe unemployed so long that they are no longer looking for work. what is the longer term outlook for how bad this economy is and what it will take to get people back to work? >> to go back, we've got to make the investment. we have to have help from the federal government especially the congress. there are days and i'm right here in washington where i wonder if they even listen to us and understand what's going on in our cities. the kind of investments that mayor nutter talked about would be valuable in every one of our cities. there's not a mayor in town this week who wouldn't underscore the importance of making those kinds of investments. right here in the city, for example, we, along with the rest of the mayors, talked about getting a transportation bill. investing in our street car system would have major benefits from economic development here in the city. because it would bring people into areas that they're not going into now. street cars are being supported all across the nation at this
stage. at the federal level the congressional level, there's no conversation at all. >> we'll be back with the mayors in just a moment and talk about jobs and football and whether their teams have a chance next year. right after this. i just had it with cable. it just got more frustrating and frustrating. a lot of times, the picture would break up. for the amount of money that i am paying, my cable company should take care of me. [ male announcer ] stop paying for second best. move up to verizon fios tv, internet and phone for our best price online -- just $89.99 a month guaranteed for two years. first time we saw tv on fios was amazing!
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can i have the definition? swapportunity: the opportunity to swap a higher calorie snack for a yoplait light. can you use it in a sentence? mmm. swapping a 300 calorie donut for this 110 calorie strawberry shortcake is a good swapportunity. that's not a real word. oh haha it's real. [ female announcer ] delicious, creamy, yoplait light. over 30 flavors each around 100 calories. do the swap today. we're back with more of our "press pass" conversation. meeting in washington for the u.s. conference of mayors focus on economics and jobs crisis throughout america. what about the politics, pure politics, in terms of the campaign trail?
there's a discussion now in a state like pennsylvania that is so important to the president's re-election. here you have income and equality in the country being a major issue. newt gingrich on the campaign trail in south carolina calling this president the food stamp president because of how many people are poor. how much blame do you lay at the feet of this president and his agenda for not dealing with poverty in the country? >> first, i think the comment by newt gingrich is actually some of the more ignorant commentary that's out there. the fact that people are poor in america really is the issue and should be dealt with but you don't make people's lives better by cutting the cdgb program where every possible safety net that exists in the united states of america so i think the president continues to fight for people who have great needs. and it is quite frankly engaged with a congress that does not understand the many instances of what's really going on across the country.
you'll hear more about that in the state of the union with president talking about job training, community colleges, issues. education will lift. that's an anti-poverty strategy by investing in education. >> what impact on cities? d.c. is the special case with statehood issues. i asked this question of governor romney which is what do you do about inequality? he says what you don't do is make the federal government the safety net of last resort. you have to push this back to the states. if you do that, what's the impact on the cities? >> states are cutting budgets as well. we it ends up at our doorstep. the federal government cannot move away from its overall obligation to support people, support americans all across the country. the federal government is the entity that should be dealing with poverty.
should be dealing with income inequality and dealing with lack of education and lack of access to health care and criminal activity all across the country and certainly should be supporting more the cops program for instance. so i think that poverty is a national issue. it must be dealt with at the national issue. there's no city in the united states of america that can solve poverty by itself without federal intervention and certainly state support as well. you know, as we say, i pick up trash and fill potholes for a living. a lot of these debates in washington, these folks have no idea. they have no real connection to what goes on on a daily basis. some need to take an economics course or have a better understanding of what it takes as an executive to get things done on a daily basis. it's clear from their commentary and the useless debates that go on down here that most of them have no real notion of what it takes to run a big enterprise like a city in america.
>> the president has advanced programs that congress has stymied. the president advanced proposals that we know had bipartisan support in the past. you have to come away from those debates feeling like the real agenda is to stop this president from being able to do anything and not do something for america that we know will work. the president has invested in education. the race to the top program i think is absolutely outstanding. secondly, when you look at the president's proposal to invest in ageing schools, that would have been a perfect way to invest in our cities to get our kids going into buildings they can feel good about. invest in the cops program. we look at the violence that continues to find parts of america and recognize that while having more police on the street isn't the total answer, it's part of helping our city. the congress has stymied proposals that we know will work that the president advanced and they have to be asked why.
>> and no proposals of their own. >> even if the president is re-elected, there's not an appetite for more investment in cities. how do you adjusted a chief executives of your city to a reality where you will get far less than you know that you need? how do you make those adjustments? >> well, we have been struggling. both of us have had to make tough decisions. that's what you do as an executive. we have to live within our means. we actually have a responsibility to balance our budgets. we have capital programs. we have to reduce services and reduce the size of our workforce. federal government certainly needs to take a look at that as well. again, from a business standpoint, if we're 90% of your product output, if a company was making 90% of its money in one particular area, would you invest more in that or invest less in that? this is a business case. we're not asking for charity. we're not asking for a handout but we need a helping hand from