In taking the case for his $447 billion jobs bill to the home turf of House Speaker John Boehner (R.-Ohio) and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R.-Ky.), the President yesterday used as a site for his remarks an outdated bridge that links their two states.
Calling on the Republican leaders to “help us rebuild this bridge,” President Obama then made a strong pitch for the jobs bill that would, among other things, underwrite public works projects and accelerate repairs on bridges and highways.
As it turns out, both Boehner and McConnell already support the rebuilding of the Brent Spence Bridge in Cincinnati that links Ohio to Kentucky.
And two of the House members from neighboring districts told HUMAN EVENTS that there was nothing fresh or innovative in the President’s remarks or his jobs bill, and it was time for him to take an entirely different approach.
“We’ve already heard the President talk about job creation, and with no results,” said Rep. Steve Austria (R.-Ohio), who represents the 7th District that stretches from Dayton to Columbus, just north of Cincinnati. Two-termer Austria dismissed Obama’s proposed jobs bill as another call for “more spending, higher taxes and more regulation.”
Austria went on to point out that it “is now, more than ever, time to stop out-of-control spending and make the necessary cuts in the budget. And it’s time the President understands that if we’re going to create jobs, we have to help the job creators. That means we get our fiscal house in order and get government out of the way of business. We have to create jobs, not kill them.”
Obama’s remarks also came under strong fire from freshman Republican Rep. Steve Stivers of Ohio’s 15th District, who recalled similarities between the stimulus bill of ’09 and the new Obama jobs package.
“This bill has a $447 billion price tag on it, and that’s about half the size of the stimulus package,” Stivers told us. “And that stimulus package cost about $250,000 for every job it was said to have created. We can’t afford any more of this.”
The freshman lawmaker went on to cite his own legislation, which he is now finalizing, that would expand continental shelf drilling. The money from that shelf drilling would fund infrastructure, and the measure would create private-sector jobs. “And we would not have to raid the Highway Trust Fund,” added Stivers, who said he is waiting for a score from the Congressional Budget Office on his measure.
In contrast to several Republicans, Stivers voiced optimism about the work of the 12-member “Super Committee” in suggesting cuts for a vote by Congress. As he told HUMAN EVENTS, “They just can’t have any sacred-cow programs.”
Stivers proudly reported to us that, “I have reduced my own salary by 5% and my office expenses by 5%-plus, with the money [he declines] going to the office in the Treasury Department that pays down the national debt.” The Buckeye State lawmaker also pointed out that he has offered legislation for a checkoff box on the 1040 forms with the Internal Revenue Service in which taxpayers could designate funds of their own for paying down the national debt. So far, he said, his proposal “has more than 40 co-sponsors.”
In finding nothing new or innovative in the President’s bridge remarks, Congressmen Stivers and Austria were in all likelihood echoing the feelings of many of their colleagues and their fellow Ohioans.