Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, a Democrat, says he’s shocked the $800-billion economic stimulus bill passed the U.S. House without a single Republican vote. Harkin says it’s surprising with all the people being laid off and conservative economists saying the government needs to do more, not less.
"I ‘spose someone can always say ‘well I found something wrong with the bill’, but I think there’s a heck of a lot more good in it than bad," Harkin says. Harkin says he hopes the bill picks up more Republican support in the Senate. Republicans raised concerns that millions of dollars are in the bill that won’t do anything to help stimulate the economy.
Harkin says he’s looked at those complaints and thinks "they are off base." Harkin says the stimulus bill is not just about creating jobs right now, as he says a big part of the bill is "laying the groundwork for solid recovery and transforming our economy, and we have to keep that in mind." Harkin says the measures that change the economy are important.
"So that when we start coming out of this recession or depression, or whatever it is we are in, that we’re going to have a stronger basis, and that could mean a lot of things," Harkin says. He says it means healthier people, so we’re more productive, smarter kids using higher technology in the classroom, community colleges having better equipment to retrain people for the new jobs of the future. Harkin says the vote on the stimulus bill is a repeat of what happened before.
Harkin says it reminds him of 1993 when every Republican voted against President Clinton’s economic plan, saying the sky was going to fall and it would lead to massive unemployment. Harkin says the country was instead able to pay down the national debt and recover. Harkin says the Senate stimulus bill had bipartisan support when it passed out of the appropriations committee, and he hopes the final bill will see that support.