If you were not at Lambeau Field on Thursday night and were not interested in the NFL pregame extravaganza shown on TV (or just reside under a rock), you likely caught at least a portion of President Barack Obama’s speech last night.
Obama introduced his $447 billion jobs plan, that along with tax cuts for businesses, would provide $60 billion for highway and other transportation projects. While details regarding how the money could be disbursed to states is unclear at this point – heck, Congress hasn’t even seen the bill yet – local members of the House and Senate are already weighing in on the proposal.
Here’s some thoughts of D.C. politicians with Wisconsin ties:
• U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-Wis., said it’s time for lawmakers to get their act together and stop the hyper partisanship.
“We’ll see in the coming days if there is an opportunity to find common ground,” he said. “Let’s package this together and get moving or we’re in danger of seeing our economic recovery stall and run out of steam. I see countries like China, Brazil and India making major investment in infrastructure while we’re sitting on our hands.”
• U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., is fired up about Obama’s plans, but not in a positive way. Johnson said the president’s policy of deficit spending is hurting the county’s ability to pick itself up out of the recession.
“I have a hard time thinking he’s going to get the entire package passed,” Johnson said. “I’ve got an open mind. I’d like to get our economy moving again, but as I look at the problem, with the high level of uncertainty, lack of confidence – I think that uncertainty is being caused by his spending.”
• Compared to Johnson, U.S. Rep. Tom Petri, R-Wis., seems to be taking more of a wait-and-see approach to the issue. Petri said he wants to see the bill once Obama officially introduces it to Congress before committing to an opinion.
“As we speak we’re facing the possibility of a cutback in federal funding for roads and surface transportation because the money coming into federal highway trust fund has not been adequate to fund current levels of spending,” Petri said. “That needs to be part of the discussion as well.”
• U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., said sending money to states for infrastructure upgrades provides a dual effect.
“No. 1, it puts people to work right away,” she said. “We have lots of experience in this arena, so it’s not reinventing the wheel; and lastly, there’s a lasting impact from the work done on highways, bridges and schools.”
Baldwin pointed to a report from the American Society of Civil Engineers that gave the country’s roads a “D” grade in terms of quality to showcase the severe need for industry investment.
“These are things that ought to concern us all,” she said. “As we are trying to get on solid economic footing after a deep recession, this is a key to getting there.”