Topeka Kansas’ all-Republican congressional delegation saw little to like Thursday in President Barack Obama’s $447 billion plan that he said will produce thousands of jobs and put more money in the pockets of American workers.
“It will provide a jolt to an economy that is stalled,” Obama said.
The Democrat urged Congress to put aside political differences and help Americans as quickly as possible.
“You should pass this right away,” he said several times.
U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., opposed the extra spending.
“Creating jobs doesn’t have to cost our country a dime,” Roberts said. “Instead, we need to pass the pending trade agreements, reduce tax rates and cut back the amount of regulations that are burdening our nation’s businesses and stifling growth and job creation. Those simple measures will do more for job stimulation than any other stimulus package the president will ever introduce.”
U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., put out a news release describing Obama’s proposal as “more of the same.” Moran added, “I had hoped to hear the President outline a different approach to get our economy back on sound footing — rather than more of the same failed policies.”
U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Topeka, whose district includes western Douglas County, said there was agreement on both sides of the aisle to approve the trade agreements and reform the tax code.
She said she rejected more spending to create jobs, but added, “the most important development of the night was that all of Washington seems to finally agree that the top priority of the federal government needs to be addressing this job crisis in order to get our economy moving again.”
U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder, R-Overland Park, whose district covers eastern Douglas County, said he was disappointed that Obama “decided to double down on more stimulus spending and greater government growth.”
But Yoder said he appreciated Obama’s emphasis on small-business owners and entrepreneurs.
“Both Republicans and Democrats have placed job-creation proposals on the table that merit consideration. I look forward to joining members of both parties as we work together to support policies that rebuild America and restore our economic prosperity,” he said.
U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler, criticized Obama’s plan, saying, “Spending money we do not have on programs that do not work is no solution.”
Huelskamp called Obama’s proposal another stimulus plan.
“The White House should throw out the copier: Obama Stimulus One failed, and so would Stimulus Two,” he said. In 2009, Congress approved an $825 billion stimulus plan.
But Huelskamp recited several of the items that Obama said were needed to help the economy recover. Those included passage of trade agreements, simplifying the tax code and making more spending cuts.
The Kansas Chamber of Commerce said Obama should reduce taxes, repeal the federal health reform law, end union control of the National Labor Relations Board and “reverse the government’s addiction to over-regulation.”
Obama’s proposal calls for cutting payroll taxes that workers pay from 4.2 percent to 3.1 percent and from 6.2 percent to 3.1 percent for businesses. Businesses would also get a tax break for hiring new workers.
His plan also would spend $25 billion to modernize 35,000 schools, and $35 billion to prevent layoffs of up to 280,000 teachers.
He said he would pay for the plan through more spending cuts, reforming the tax code so that the wealthiest Americans “pay their fair share,” and making adjustments to Medicare and Medicaid.