Blue Dog Priorities in Stimulus: Fiscal Discipline, Infrastructure

By January 21, 2009Economy, Infrastructure

Rep. Heath Schuler (D-NC), a prominent House Blue Dog, seems to be finding the House Leadership’s $825 billion economic stimulus bill, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act,  too rich. In an interview in the Times-News newspaper, “Shuler looks ahead,” he identifies priorities:

“This can’t be a Christmas tree,” Shuler said. “It can’t be the pet projects of the House and Senate.”

Shuler said the money must go toward infrastructure construction and the expansion of broadband Internet access throughout the country. The bill should focus on job creation, he added.

“We want people to work,” he said. “We need to be building bridges. We need to be laying infrastructure.”

But Shuler said the price tag of the stimulus package is high, and he is concerned about returning fiscal responsibility to Washington.

(Hat tip: Michelle Malkin, a dogged foe of the stimulus bill.)

The Wall Street Journal’s weekend interview piece profiled Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN), a leader of the Blue Dogs, about his attitudes toward the Obama Administration, spending restraint, and Cooper also mentions infrastructure as a priority. From “The Blue Dogs Have Their Day“:

Blue Dogs are already taking their first leap of faith on the stimulus package that will define the president’s first days in office. They might have been expected to balk at a measure with a trillion-dollar price tag and no deference to “paygo,” the rules championed by budget hawks, whereby new spending or tax changes must be made “neutral” by corresponding offsets. Instead many of the Blue Dogs, including Mr. Cooper, seem on-board with the plan.

Are Blue Dogs really OK with signing off on a trillion-dollar stimulus? “I didn’t vote for the first stimulus package, because that was just writing small checks to people. What does that do? Nothin’. I didn’t vote for the auto bailouts,” he says.

“But I think there are infrastructure things that are legitimate to spend money on,” like the interstate highway system. “For the stimulus package to work in the economy, you have to have long-term credibility. If people think we are inviting inflation back in, or if we’re not going to prudently manage the nation’s finances, the stimulus package is largely a waste of time.”

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