Two Iowa congressman are offering their advice and opinions about the economic stimulus package President-elect Obama is developing. Congressman Dave Loebsack, a Democrat from Mount Vernon, has sent a letter to congressional leaders of both parties, urging them to allot the money based on needs — and he cites the flood damage to Iowa infrastructure as an example.
"It grew out of my tour that I did for a week around the district in December to listen to what folks had to say about our economy, about how best we can recover certainly in the district and throughout Iowa," Loebsack says. "Many of the concerns that I heard of course in the district reflected the concerns that we’ve heard nationwide."
While Loebsack’s letter specifically asks for additional disaster relief for Iowa, Obama has said there will be no "earmarking" in the bill to stipulate that the funding goes to specific projects.
"There are two ways to do this: obviously through the stimulus package but also we’re going to be working on these appropriations bills…and we’re dealing with specific projects in those bills," Loebsack says.
Congressman Steve King, a Republican from Kiron in western Iowa, isn’t wild about the focus on public works projects in the stimulus package. King says it means, by his calculations, that the federal government workforce will grow by 600,000.
"If you have free market solutions, you would propose policy changes such as tax cuts and regulatory changes to provide incentives for entrepreneurs to create private sector jobs. He did it the other way," King says. "…It’s backwards. It’s taking taxpayer money and investing that in (public works) projects without evaluating in a significant way how that helps our free market economy."
King contends Obama is choosing a "government managed" economy blueprint that has failed elsewhere. "The Japanese found that out and, by the way, Great Britain found that out post-World War II. The U.S.S.R. collapsed because of it, so I think there are plenty of historical lessons," King says. "…President-elect Obama and the people he’s bringing in with him drew different lessons from that era."
King favors tax cuts rather than new federal spending on public works projects, like roads and bridges.