Washington Kansans in Congress embraced President Bush's call for tax cuts in his State of the Union address, saying more relief from Congress will help reverse the nation's economic recession.
Speaking Tuesday evening in the U.S. House chamber, Bush recalled that last year, some lawmakers thought his $1.35 trillion, 10-year tax cut plan was too small and some considered it too big. "But when those checks arrived in the mail most Americans thought tax relief was just about right," Bush said.
"Congress listened to the people and responded by reducing tax rates, doubling the child credit and ending the death tax," Bush said. "The way out of this recession, the way to create jobs, is to grow the economy by encouraging investment in factories and equipment, and by speeding up tax relief so people have more money to spend."
Last month, partisan bickering halted legislation aimed at stimulating the economy; the GOP-controlled House passed stimulus legislation, but Democrats who control the Senate blocked the measure.
"While the Senate has been locked in partisan debate, over 415,000 more jobs have been lost," said Republican Sen. Sam Brownback, adding that 5,000 of those layoffs happened in Wichita, Kan.
Rep. Dennis Moore, D-Kan., noted, "In my district, 3,000 Sprint employees have lost their jobs. These are people who were taxpayers and lost their jobs through no fault of their own. They need a helping hand right now."
Republican Sen. Pat Roberts said Bush struck the right tone if he wanted to bring both parties to a compromise in the closely divided Congress.
"He covered the economic recession with pretty much a list of objectives that both parties have; now, we'll have differences of opinion on how we do that, but he went through virtually every initiative that is on the table, both Republican and Democrat," Roberts said.
Republican Rep. Jim Ryun agreed that Bush struck the right balance.
"He recognized that really the way to handle this is to make sure you have compassion for those who lost their jobs, but we need to grow more jobs and provide opportunities for them to work," Ryun said.
Earlier Tuesday, the Senate was debating a measure to extend unemployment benefits by 13 weeks and give out a new round of rebate checks to lower-income people.
"That's primarily the working poor, and I'm pretty sure they would put that money right back into the economy," said Republican Rep. Todd Tiahrt.
"Much of our economy relies on perception; they call it consumer confidence," Tiahrt added. "If our government pulled together to put a stimulus package into law, I think it would help with confidence and getting our country going again."
Tiahrt said tax cuts can generate more revenue for the federal government if done right.