U.S. Rep Bill Cassidy says he would vote for an $800 billion stimulus package if its spending measures were “timely, targeted and temporary.” Cassidy is one of 28 Republicans targeted by Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee radio ads; he’s accused of voting “against economic recovery” and job creation. Cassidy argues the $820 billion bill that passed the House without a Republican vote is “two bills tied into one.” It includes a job-creation bill with tax cuts and infrastructure projects that would work, along with needed increases in Medicaid, and a spending bill that is unrelated to stimulating the faltering economy. “This bill has $2,700 per man, woman and child living in my district, in terms of national debt,” he says.
Cassidy says, for example, that $4 million for cyber security and IT at the State Department, $524 million for the State Department’s Capital Investment Fund, $70 million for computers for climate research, and $20 million for IT support at the Bureau of Industry and Security might all be worthwhile, but should go through the normal budget process.
“I think the Republicans are picking out line items from a huge bill and just using it for political purposes,” says Scott Jordan, spokesman for the Louisiana Democratic Party. No bill that large will ever be perfect, and President Barack Obama has pushed to take out some of the items Republicans objected to, Jordan says. “Is (Cassidy) so opposed to this in principle that he doesn’t think Louisiana should get between $3 billion and $6 billion in infrastructure projects and projects for schools?” he asks.
Wednesday’s Senate amendments, including a $15,000 homebuyer tax credit supported by Republicans, pushed the bill’s cost above $900 billion, the limit Obama had set for the final legislation. A final vote in the Senate might happen today.
Cassidy says he will not endorse any of the three candidates running for his state senate seat, saying he has supporters in all three camps.