Bill Owens likes the broad outline of President Barack Obama's jobs plan.
"I've been talking about jobs for two years," Owens, D-Plattsburgh, said Friday morning. "This is where the focus should be, where it should've been for a long time. I think the plan the president laid out sounds fundamentally good to me, (but) I need to see the details. It's also important the president provided these expenditures will be paid for with additional cuts, so we're moving in the right direction."
Obama unveiled his $450 billion plan in a speech to Congress Thursday evening, calling for cutting the payroll tax, and spending to fix schools and roads, to hire teachers and police, to extend unemployment benefits, and a variety of tax credits.
Rep. Bill Owens
(Enterprise file photo)
Owens said he likes the tax credits, mentioning one that would give them to businesses that hire veterans.
"It's important to continue to do everything we can to support our veterans," he said.
Owens also said he supports spending on infrastructure improvements, and said he favors a federal commitment to states for several years' worth.
"A short-term extension or one-year bill will not work, because it won't allow state governments to plan projects," he said.
Owens said his main concern is that Obama's plan won't be acted upon.
"We've had proposals put forward before that were either not acted on or not acted on promptly," he said.
Owens said he doesn't support the federal government creating jobs directly, "but creating the atmosphere in which private industry can do that."
For that reason, Owens didn't sound like a fan of Illinois Rep. Jan Schakowsky's jobs plan. Her Emergency Jobs to Restore the American Dream Act would, according to her office, create 2.2 million government jobs by hiring people in various federal programs. It would be paid for by raising taxes on the rich, cutting subsidies to oil companies and closing some corporate tax loopholes.
"I think that's going back to the old WPA concept," Owens said, referring to the Works Progress Administration, a federal program during the Great Depression. "I think that's something I would be willing to take a look at, (but) I'm not as excited about the federal government creating jobs as creating the atmosphere where private industry creates jobs."
Owens also said he has read "a good portion" of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's jobs plan, which calls for tax and spending cuts, reducing regulations, weakening the power of unions and expanding domestic oil, coal and natural gas production.
"Unfortunately, it doesn't appear to me to be much new or of substance in that plan," Owens said. "It relies on the idea of cutting taxes, relies on the idea of reducing regulations, but doesn't really talk about how you're going to put people back to work. That's troubling to me."
Owens said he would compare it with Obama's plan and read the details of Romney's plan more closely, "but I don't see anything new or creative in that plan."
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