WASHINGTON — If the position of Louisiana House Republicans is any indication, President Barack Obama’s jobs bill won’t clear the chamber.
The state’s six Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives bashed the plan Tuesday, calling it more government spending paid for through tax hikes.
“If that was the answer to our problem, there would be no unemployment,” said U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Metairie.
But the state’s lone House Democrat, U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond, of New Orleans, said the proposal uses ideas from both Republicans and Democrats. “The two parties can keep fighting, and the people will keep suffering,” he said.
The $447 billion bill affects Louisiana in a major way.
For instance, the proposal would collect $40 billion from closing loopholes to oil and gas companies. One third of the nation’s oil and gas passes through Louisiana.
“That’s not good for job creation, it’s not good for Louisiana and it’s not good for American energy,” said U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany, R-Lafayette. “If that’s in there, I’m opposed to it.”
U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, pointed to a provision that would negatively affect a subsidy that allows energy companies to deduct up to 9 percent of their net income from domestic manufacturing activities, in the process bringing down their overall corporate tax rate.
Shell Oil and Dow Chemical are building plants in the United States, Cassidy said. “Here we have a provision, which is encouraging domestic manufacturing expansion, and he wants to remove it,” Cassidy said.
The Louisiana Republicans, as other GOP members of the House have done, accused the president of playing politics.
“He presents a plan and he’ll be able to say for the next 12 months during the election, ‘If it doesn’t pass, I couldn’t get it passed and it’s their fault,’” said U.S. Rep. Rodney Alexander, R-Quitman and dean of the delegation.
Richmond indicated that such a move would be warranted.
“If you’re afraid of that, pass the thing and then it’s on the president and on everybody to see if it works or it doesn’t,” Richmond said. “But if you kill it, you are taking responsibility and guaranteeing that the country is not going to come out of this dip that we’re in or we may go into a full-fledged recession.”
But Louisiana Republicans show no signs of supporting the bill. Republican U.S. Rep. John Fleming said the bill is fully paid for through new taxes.
The legislation proposes limiting itemized deductions for individuals earning over $200,000 and couples who make $250,000 or more. Republicans contend that it would impact small businesses.
“It’s just the opposite of what you want to do,” Fleming said.
Richmond contends that new taxes are needed.
“They need to get over that,” Richmond said of the tax issue. “The country needs some new revenues.”
U.S. Rep. Jeff Landry, R-New Iberia, also said some of the provisions are similar to the original stimulus plan. “He’s re-gifting and we don’t need this gift anymore,” he said.
The Republicans should give the legislation an opportunity to work, Richmond said.
“To the extent that the Republicans think they can lead better, well the time for that discussion is in 14 months when reelection comes up,” Richmond said. “Right now, the president has been elected to lead. Let him.”
Jobs bill proposals
How President Barack Obama’s jobs bill would affect Louisiana.
• Cut payroll tax to 3.1 percent for 80,000 Louisiana employers.
• $490 million for state transportation construction projects. The move would create 6,400 jobs.
• $434.4 million in funds to support about 6,300 educator and first-responder jobs in Louisiana.
• $516.8 million for school repair and modernization, supporting as many as 6,700 jobs.
• $20 million for construction and rehabilitation of vacant Louisiana homes and businesses.
• $40.7 million to modernize state community colleges.
• Extension of unemployment insurance for 15,100 workers laid off in Louisiana.
• Pathway Back to Work program would place 1,700 adults and 5,300 youths in jobs in Louisiana.
• Payroll tax deduction would provide $1,500 for the typical Louisiana household with the median income of about $45,000.