Dennis Sullivan , former executive editor of MSNBC, proposes to the Hillary Clinton campaign:

A Rust Belt Marshall Plan

by Dennis Sullivan

Or, since not everyone in the region likes the term rust belt, let’s use a better name.

HEARTLAND RECOVERY PLAN

Hillary Clinton should host a large kickoff rally and concert in the football stadium of The Ohio State University sometime in October, headlined by Bruce Springsteen (“Youngstown”) and led off by a mission statement from Tim Kaine, followed by a speech from Hillary outlining legislation - The Heartland Recovery Act - modeled on the European Recovery Act or Marshall Plan - legislation aimed at creating a turning point for the region during the four years of Hillary’s first term. This will match the four years the original Marshall Plan was in operation.

Like its post-War predecessor, the Clinton Plan would initiate bold infrastructure projects, create technological training programs, set up innovative trade agreements, and create millions of new jobs.

This is a plan to boost the economic fortunes of citizens in western New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, the Lower Peninsula of Michigan, Northern Illinois, and eastern Wisconsin. The anxious voters of this “rustbelt” have suffered the consequences of industries moving to the West, increased automation, the decline of the US steel and coal industries, free trade agreements such as NAFTA, globalization, outsourcing of jobs beyond our borders. Great American cities like Chicago, Buffalo, Detroit, Milwaukee, Gary, Cincinnati, Toledo, Cleveland, Akron, Youngstown, St. Louis and Pittsburgh have all felt the effects of these changes. A region made great by generations of immigrants is now tempted

to reject new arrivals from Mexico and Syria. All of these realities have heightened the appeal of a dictatorial candidate who offers instant, magical, nostrums posing as solutions.

The HEARTLAND RECOVERY PLAN would be a cooperative effort by the federal government, state governments and the private sector. Companies from the region will be invited at the 2016 campaign rally to make pledges that will eventually supplement funds from federal and state budgets that will kick in during the first days of Hillary’s presidency. Governors and mayors will also be invited to participate in the campaign

Among the many prosperous companies located in the region are:

GM, FORD, DOW, WHIRLPOOL, TRW, KRAFT HEINZ, ROCKWELL COLLINS, SHERWIN WILLIAMS, AIRSTREAM, EATON CORP, EVENFLO, COOPER TIRES, GOODYEAR, CATERPILLAR, HOLLISTER, NCR, WENDY‘S , BURPEE, CRAYOLA, DICK’S SPORTING GOODS, GENERAL NUTRITION CENTERS, PPG, RODALE,WOOLRICH,HARLEY-DAVIDSON,TRANE,CUMMINS ,ELI LILLY,TREK BICYCLES and many, many more.

Clearly, if these successful companies can be persuaded that the Clinton Plan will bolster their growth and profits, they can also be convinced to support enabling legislation in Congress and to invest in worker training programs and new equipment to assist the economic and cultural comeback of our nation’s heartland. It is an easy case to make.

Nor should it be hard to win the cooperation of some of the great musicians who either come from the region or who are identified with it.

New Jersey is not normally considered a Rust Belt state, but Bruce Springsteen’s Youngstown is certainly a Rust Belt lament and it would make a great opening number, preceded perhaps by the National Anthem performed by Pittsburgh’s Christina Aguilera. Then, how about a number or two from The Black Keys from Akron? Follow that with something by Chrissie Hynde and the Pretenders, also from Akron. And then! From Chardon Ohio! the Chardon Polka Band! Then, a radical change of pace: Eminem, from Detroit, with his Sing for the Moment, addressing some of the darker aspects of growing up in difficult times. And then .. a big finale, with all the performers plus Hillary, Tim, Bill, and the entire audience, led by Bruce chanting Born in the USA, perhaps with updated lyrics for the occasion.

Because voters seem to be making up their minds early about the candidates, an opening rally in September, followed by a series of smaller rallies in other Heartland cities, would be optimal to reach working Americans and their families.

Everybody cares about supporting families with good jobs and ending the era of the worst inequality in America since the Great Depression. Any sane person knows that Hillary Clinton has the best chance of renewing the Heartland and that Trump is just trying to enrich his family and his rich buddies with more loopholes and tax exemptions.

So, enough of the wonkiness, let’s go out and sell Hillary’s Plan with a joyous and emotional campaign!

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August 11, 2016