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Public Statements

Petri Calls For Health Care Reboot, Business Incentives And Dialogue

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Location: Washington, DC

Congressman Tom Petri is hoping that President Obama will call for a "reboot" on health care in tonight's State of the Union address. Also, he is skeptical of the President's budget freeze proposal and would like the President to start discussions on investment tax credits and other proposals to get the economy moving again.

Looking forward to the President's address, Petri said:

"I hope he recognizes the need to reboot on health care and work on making some progress rather than saying, 'My way or not at all,' because that approach has not been working very well.

"And I hope he talks about trying to stimulate growth and profitability in the private sector because corporate tax payments last year were half of what they were the year before. And that, of course, means deficits and puts pressure on the whole system.

"In the past, we have seen things like investment tax credits and accelerated depreciation and some other things like that, that have encouraged companies to make investments. And that creates jobs for the people they are doing business with, and then they are working and can pay taxes, and that helps the government.

"The last stimulus program focused more heavily on stabilizing the public sector in a variety of ways. It is important, but if you are actually going to get out of this problem, you are going to have to see the economy growing and people being able to pay more in taxes. And the best way for that is if they have a job and are making money.

"It doesn't make any difference if you're not working - you can have taxes at 100 percent, but you are not going to pay anything anyway."

Of the President's budget freeze proposal, Petri said:

"These proposals are in the discretionary part of the budget. He is talking about having a three-year freeze on it. And that actually sounds like progress in getting at the deficit, but that only applies to about 14 percent of the overall budget.

"And then, he is talking about new spending proposals in that 14 percent. So, presumably, if it freezes overall, and you are increasing spending on some things, you are going to have to cut some other things.

"The freeze idea is one that presidents have worked on before, but Congress has not, in the past, been very receptive to it."

When asked if he thought the President could work productively with Republicans, Petri said that the relationship over the past year has been "relatively cordial," but not open to an exchange of ideas. Petri said:

"The President did come, at the beginning of the year, to the Republican caucus, and he will be coming, I guess, to our conference this Friday. It just hasn't been a real, open and receptive dialogue on both sides.

"And I guess it is easy to point fingers both ways, but it seems to me that it makes sense to sit down and try to partner on some issues and say, 'What are your ideas for dealing with this?' and 'How can we build on that?' rather than saying, 'Here are my ideas, and cooperation means you go along with my ideas, or maybe we compromise on my ideas a little bit.' That's not really a two-way street."


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