Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Garrett and the Obama Summit

Depending on which press account you read, Representative Scott Garrett was either optimistic or dismissive of President Obama's visit with Republicans today regarding the stimulus package.

From CQ Politics:

Several participants, including Scott Garrett of New Jersey, reported that Obama said he would be open to a corporate tax rate cut if it was coupled with the elimination of tax loopholes. “It’s the beginning of a dialog,” Garrett said. “I was pleased to hear he would consider a corporate rate cut.”

Ah, closing loopholes. In the past Garrett and the Republican Caucus have opposed doing that, but maybe just maybe, this time will be different.

Less optimistic sounding, the accounts from Herb Jackson of the Record and Jessica Coomes of the Express Times. From Jackson:
He specifically cited $200 million to re-sod the National Mall in Washington, $600 million for federal vehicles and $1.3 billion to upgrade computer systems for state and federal agencies.

"Some of the projects listed in this bill are certainly worthy of government funding, but let's not masquerade these projects as a stimulus," Garrett, R-Wantage, said in a statement released after the meeting. "Stimulus is not an excuse to expand government programs. Stimulus means the economy will grow."
The shopping list isn't unique to Garrett, Rep. John Boehner pointed to the sod on Meet the Press on Sunday. Granted, there are a bunch of things in the proposal that should go into the regular appropriations process; but Republicans arguing that $600 million in auto production wouldn't help the economy is a bit disingenuous.

On the other hand, Democrats really need to prioritize these projects based on ROI in terms of jobs. There definitely seems to be a number of large ticket items that will only employ a handful of people relative to our need, and should go through appropriations (ex. NASA research). As Garrett noted, not that they're not important, just not "Emergency Stimulus" in my opinion.

Unfortunately, even though both sides are talking about bi-partisanship, it doesn't seem that they're working that well together at this point. We'll see, though, there's still time.

No comments: