Barack Obama's campaign plans to relaunch his "urban agenda" Monday in what people close to the strategy say is an effort to assure urban leaders and voters of the Democratic nominee's commitment to cities and minorities without alienating skeptical white voters.
The plan features an increase in the minimum hourly wage, a new White House office focused on metropolitan areas and $60 billion to establish a national bank to finance public-works projects.
The campaign didn't give a total cost for the plan, but the 32-page blueprint that will be released during a meeting of the Democratic Party's African-American caucus includes tens of billions of dollars in annual spending on antipoverty programs, the new federal bank, education efforts and other new initiatives. Obama aides say much of the funding would come from an estimated $200 billion saved from reducing government waste and ending the Iraq war.
Michael Coleman, the black mayor of Columbus, Ohio, will lead the discussion Monday before the caucus. A series of town-hall meetings staged in various cities will follow, each led by mayors and other local leaders.
I'm the biggest supporter of anything pro-Urban planning (see: name of website), but before shelling out upwards of $100 billion, I'd like to see a bit more than a 32-page pamphlet telling me about it. (Yet at the same time, it sure beats anything McCain has to offer...oh wait! He doesn't have anything to offer. The free market will fix poverty! Duh!)