Ky. Dems offer cautious support to president's jobs plan while Republicans don't like it

09/08/2011 07:50 PM

President Barack Obama’s $450 billion proposal for tax cut extensions and infrastructure spending drew mild praise from Kentucky Democrats and a collective “nice try” from state Republican officials.

“The president has presented a common sense approach to a very complex and serious economic situation. While I still want to see specific details, this is an agenda that should generate bipartisan support,” said Democratic U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth of Louisville in a statement after the president’s address to a joint session of Congress.

Earlier this week, Yarmuth said on Pure Politics that he was hoping for Obama to offer an imaginative and bold strategy to spark job creation.

Among Kentucky Republicans, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul offered the sharpest criticism of Obama’s proposal.

“The No. 1 problem that fuels our deficit crisis – that has us pushing on toward this deficit problem – is entitlements,” Paul said.

Obama, however, urged Congress to take up reforms of Medicare and Social Security during his 30-minute speech.

Most of Paul’s rebuttal to the president’s speech focused on ways to tackle the nation’s debt — not the president’s specific proposals Thursday night. And Paul criticized the president for claiming the rich don’t pay their fair share.

However, the specific example Obama cited in his speech was how hedge fund managers such as Warren Buffett pay much lower tax rates than most Americans because of a loophole. And Paul, himself, told Pure Politics last month that he’d be open to seeing that change.

You can watch Paul’s full remarks here:

Other Kentucky Republicans also said they couldn’t get behind the president’s jobs plan.

  • U.S. House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers, R-Somerset, said he was “glad to see President Obama coming to the table with ideas to get our economy working and give our businesses the confidence to create jobs.” But Rogers said he thought Obama’s strategy would only succeed in increasing federal spending and exacerbating the debt.
  • U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie, R-Bowling Green, said he was glad Obama is focusing on jobs but wasn’t convinced the tax cuts and infrastructure investments could be paid for.

“I am concerned that the president’s proposals follow the previous pattern of borrowing and spending,” he said. “We have learned we cannot create a growing economy by spending more money in Washington and creating uncertainty for job creators.”

  • U.S. Rep. Geoff Davis, R-Hebron, said he appreciated the president giving a shout-out to the Brent Spence Bridge between Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky as a necessary infrastructure project. But he said he still didn’t believe the president’s approach would be effective.
  • U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Hopkinsville, said the proposals “were diappointingly more of the same.” He said Obama should urge the Democratic-controlled Senate to pass a House bill that would provide benefits — and thus spur hiring — among energy companies.

And “if President Obama is serious about creating jobs in this country, he can send to Congress the three pending trade agreements that would open more foreign markets to U.S.-made products,” Whitfield said.

Obama did say in his speech that he wants Congress to approve free trade agreements with Panama, Columbia and South Korea.

  • Among other Kentucky Democrats, U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler said he was “pleased” by Obama’s speech.

“The best way to jumpstart our economy and solve our fiscal crisis is by putting Kentuckians back to work. That will go a long way to reducing the deficit,” Chandler’s statement said.

  • And Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer called Obama’s proposal “a fiscally responsible way to get our economy moving again.”

“There are numerous Louisville infrastructure projects which could benefit from this plan,” Fischer said. “I urge Congress to seriously consider the proposal and act quickly to pass it.”

The president punctuated his speech to Congress with the mantra: “You should pass it right away.”

And he pledged to take it to the American people directly, starting Friday with a speech in Virginia.

“The people who hired us … they don’t have the luxury of waiting another 14 months,” Obama said. “Some of them are living week-to-week, day-to-day, even paycheck-to-paycheck.”

Among the highlights of the president’s proposal, he called for:

  • rennovating and modernizing 35,000 U.S. schools
  • investing in new roads, bridges and other infrasturature
  • offering tax credits to businesses for hiring military veterans, as well as Americans who have spent more than six months out-of-work
  • Continuing unemplyoment insurance benefits for another year
  • Extending a $1,500 tax credit for middle class families

Obama pledged that “everything in this bill will be paid for.”

He said he will release a deficit reduction plan on Sept. 19. And he asked the super committee to add another $450 billlion to the $1.5 trillion in federal spending it needs to cut over the next 10 years.


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