Alaska Delegation Reacts to President’s Jobs Speech

Alaska’s Congressional delegation is giving the President’s speech Thursday night on creating jobs and boosting the economy mixed reviews along party lines.  Before a rarely-convened joint session of Congress, President Obama laid out a plan he’s calling the American Jobs Act.

“It will create more jobs for construction workers, more jobs for teachers, more jobs for veterans, and more jobs for the long-term unemployed.  It will provide a tax break for companies who hire new workers, and it will cut payroll taxes in half for every working American and every small business,” Obama said.

It would cut payroll taxes and give companies a payroll tax holiday if they add workers or increase wages.  Companies that hire veterans or the long-term unemployed would get tax credits.  And it calls for improving schools and internet access and includes programs to keep
teachers, firefighters and police officers on the job. $50 billion would go toward improving transportation and another 10 billion dollars to what Obama calls an “infrastructure bank,” a
public-private partnership.

Senator Mark Begich says the President’s plan would grow small businesses and put more money in the hands of middle class America.

“Generally what he’s saying to us in congress is here’s a plan, and I agree with some of the items, not all of them, but what he’s saying is this is not complicated.  American people are telling us what they want us to do,” Begich said.

Begich says he was disappointed the President didn’t push resource development, which the White House could green-light without needing action by Congress.

The plan comes with a price tag of more than $470 billion, and the president is waiting till later this month to reveal how he wants to pay for it. But he did call for closing corporate loopholes, and mentioned cutting subsidies for oil and gas companies. Begich says he’s willing to look at those subsidies – as long as it’s part of a comprehensive package that doesn’t single out the oil and gas industry.

The President is also targeting the wealthiest Americans for more taxes, which pleased Senator Begich.

“What he was saying is pay for I’ve said before, and that’s on the millionaires and billionaires.  We cannot afford tax break that millionaires and billionaires are receiving, if you put that over a 10 year period, you can pay for this, with that one simple change,” Begich said.

Some of the items President Obama talked about tonight already have bipartisan support, and Senator Lisa Murkowski says are already on the table.

“Well I think he was wise in attaching his proposal to propels that are currently in Congress and are currently underway.  The highway bill is a perfect example of that.  I there is bipartisan support for job creation when it comes to building out our infrastructure,” Murkowski said.

Overall Senator Murkowski rates the President’s plan poorly, and says it sounds too much like the 2009 stimulus bill.

“I was really not very impressed throughout the first half.  His constant refrain of you must pass this bill I felt like he was trying to sell us something.  Like a guy on TV that says you must buy this car.  He needed to persuade not just congress but American people that he has a plan,” Murkowski said.

Murkowski says the second half of the speech was more to her liking when it focused on Washington’s responsibility to come up with solutions.  And she was pleased to hear the President is willing to change entitlement programs like Medicare, something liberal Democrats
are loathe to do.

Congressman Don Young was more interested in Thursday night’s start of the NFL football season than he was in the President’s speech.  He caught it on TV because he’s still in Alaska even though the House gaveled in Wednesday.

“I watched it, parts of it, anxiously looking for the football game.  I just think he’s…hate to say it, I think the presentation was fair, but most of all I think he’s pennywise and pound short,” Young said.

Young wanted to hear even more of a focus on transportation projects.

“The only practical thing in that whole legislative package that’s supposedly a jobs bill is transportation and that got short changed,” Young said.

President Obama says he’ll unveil more of how the plan will be paid for a week from Monday, but he’s asking the Super Committee formed over the summer to come up with even more in savings than originally planned.  No Alaskans are on that committee.

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