President Barack Obama proposed giving Colombia about $323 million in aid next year, mostly to combat drug trafficking and violence. Detroit, with an 81 percent higher homicide rate, will get $108.2 million. As Michigan’s largest city entered a record $18 billion municipal bankruptcy on July 18, the message from Congress and the White House was that no new money would be forthcoming.
Detroit’s implosion has rekindled debate over how and whether a federal government that managed to provide more than $700 billion in aid to banks and automakers in 2008 and 2009 should help cities with unsustainable retirement debt, hollowed-out tax bases and diminished services that endanger the public. From 1990 to 2010, the percentage of the U.S. population that lives in urban areas grew to 81 percent from 75 percent, according to Census Bureau figures.
“The consequences for the failure of a whole set of great American cities is not limited to the people who live in those places,” said U.S. Representative Dan Kildee, a 54-year-old Democrat from nearby Flint, another former auto-industry center.
The federal government didn’t rescue the predecessors of General Motors Co., Chrysler Group LLC or failing banks until it was apparent their demise could sink the economy. Debt-ridden cities pose a similar threat, Kildee said.